IAB Tackles Privacy Worries with Big Display Ad Campaign

  |  December 3, 2009   |  Comments

Public awareness campaign aims to connect with nearly all online Americans on issue of ad targeting.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau today unveiled a large public awareness campaign to educate consumers on the underpinnings and the benefits of targeted online advertising.

The "Privacy Matters" campaign was undertaken at least partly at the behest of the Federal Trade Commission, which has advised the IAB and other ad associations that consumer education should be a lynchpin of industry self-regulation. The effort aims to amass sufficient impressions to reach "nearly every online American," according to IAB CEO Randy Rothenberg.

WPP-owned Schematic developed the creative, which uses art heavily influenced by mid-century design icon Saul Bass and tongue-in-cheek grab lines like "Advertising is creepy" and "This banner ad can tell where you live."

When people roll over the ad, a disembodied arm pulls down a screen with more elaborate copy describing online ad targeting in simple terms. Clicking through directs users to a site, IAB.net/privacy matters, with more information about different types of targeting. The site also provides a discussion forum and links to the Network Advertising Initiative's opt-out page, which controls behavioral tracking permissions across a large number of behavioral targeting networks and Web sites.

Rothenberg said the IAB expects some negativity and vitriol in the discussion forum, but welcomed the opportunity to field such comments in a public venue. IAB staffers will reply to questions and remarks on the Web site.

The first wave of "Privacy Matters" ads will span 500 million impressions, a number the IAB hopes to grow to more than a billion. The media campaign was developed by GroupM -- also a WPP agency -- and all ad space has been donated by publishers and ad networks. As a result the great majority, though not all, of the impressions are expected to be remnant placements.

 

iab-privacy-matters.jpg

Among the properties donating media are Disney Interactive, AOL, Microsoft, Google (through YouTube), Yahoo, and CBS Interactive. Participating ad networks include CPX Interactive and 24/7 Real Media.

 

During a test-phase, ads achieved a click-through rate above .5 percent. That's not great, but the IAB characterized it as a success in light of the fact the ads are information-based, offering no product tease or financial incentive to click.

Rothenberg said the goal is to add more premium inventory in future iterations of the campaign. And Trevor Kaufman, CEO of Schematic, said the agency hopes to leverage user-generated content from the site. He said his company has committed to keep working on the effort.

"It serves our interests in making more rich programmatic experiences to communicate the value of those experiences" to Internet users, Kaufman said.

In recent weeks, the IAB previewed its campaign in Washington before government officials, think tanks and advocacy groups. VP of Public Policy Mike Zaneis said feedback after a government briefing resulted in significant changes to landing pages on the Privacy Matters Web site. The display ad creative was left unchanged.

And in case you were wondering, the campaign doesn't use behavioral targeting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zachary Rodgers

Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects. 

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