TrustArc Blog

The Case For Behavioral Advertising Compliance

September 08, 2011

Fran Maier
President | TRUSTe

Forrester just released their report for marketers entitled “Online Advertising Data Compliance Matters“. The emphasis of the report is on “Matters” with Forrester recommending that marketers embrace self-regulation for the benefit of their brand as well as the overall industry.  The report makes a strong case (and one that we have been making as well) that the benefits of participating in the self-regulatory effort for online behavioral advertising compliance will far outweigh the costs.  They also point out that in a relatively short time the advertising industry has come together not only to set the standards, but to form an oversight and licensing body, the Digital Advertising Alliance, and that several vendors, including TRUSTe, have come to market with strong technology and business solutions to aid compliance efforts. Forrester urges brands themselves to take charge of their compliance obligations and not to rely on their ad network vendors because it will limit control of their brand image and message. We couldn’t agree more.

Some other points from the report worth highlighting:

– Legislation and FTC actions remain likely, but the self-regulatory program overall is considered a significant step forward by industry to address the issue.  The report recognizes some of the specific FTC concerns, but emphasizes that the self-regulatory program is the best protection against over-reaching legislation especially with the likelihood of a safe-harbor for participants in the self-regulatory program

–  OBA compliance improves consumer perceptions of the brand and advertising.  A TRUSTe/Harris study we conducted earlier this year revealed that 43% of consumers are more positive towards advertisers if presented with the Digital Advertising Alliance Program (see slide 35).

–   TRUSTe and other vendors are ready to go with a complete implementation solution, including serving the advertising option icon, monitoring compliance and more.  The report notes that compliance solutions can increase speed and effectiveness.

Finally, and rightly, Forrester looks ahead and points out that mobile ad and app privacy issues are likely to be next up on FTC and legislative agendas. We’ve seen evidence of this already, with the most recent FTC charges against W3 Innovations, LLC concerning their mobile apps for kids and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Thanks to our client Allstate for participating in the report and highlighting how we assisted with customization in their compliance efforts.