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Major Ad Providers Join European Self Regulation Initiative

  |  April 15, 2011   |  Comments

IAB Europe officially unveils behavioral self-regulatory framework, adopted by major ad firms.

The IAB Europe officially unveiled its self-regulatory framework for online behavioral advertising today, with support from over 30 major ad providers including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The initiative is intended to enhance transparency around the practice of data-informed ad targeting, and to address new E.U. laws that come into force at the end of May.

The OBA Framework, as it has been labeled, calls for a behavioral icon to be placed alongside any ad served to a user based on behavioral data, and follows in the footsteps of a similar self-regulatory effort currently being implemented in the U.S. The exact form the icon will take within Europe is yet to be decided, but the IAB has announced it will invite third party "compliance partners" to enable it on behalf of advertisers.

Likely candidates to provide that technology are Evidon, TRUSTe, and Double Verify, which are already doing so in the U.S. Evidon has already conducted trials of its system in the U.K., the company's VP of business development and privacy, Colin O'Malley, told ClickZ last week. The icon will be rolled out slowly throughout the rest of this year, but participating companies are required to implement the icon across all behavioral ads they serve by June 2012 at the latest.

In November 2009 the European Commission passed an amendment to the European Privacy Directive stating the placing of cookies on a user's machine would only be allowed following "his/her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information."

It's that legal requirement the framework and accompanying system is intended to fulfill, based on the assumption that a user consents to receiving behavioral advertising if he chooses not to opt out, having been presented with information about the practice via the icon. The U.S. program, meanwhile, is intended to stave off legislation following increased scrutiny from the FTC and Congress.

Upon clicking the icon, users will be taken to a country- and language-specific landing page where they can learn how and why their data is being collected, and by what companies or parties. They can then choose to opt in or out of being tracked by individual entities, or choose a blanket opt-out if they prefer.

The Framework is the culmination of 18 months of planning and collaboration between national IABs across Europe, as well as agencies, publishers, networks, and ad technology companies, IAB Europe President Alain Heureux commented in a release.

Meanwhile, the organization's vice president, Kimon Zorbas, said the initiative would satisfy the E.U. directive in a way that would grant users control over their data, while maintaining the functionality of the Internet. Many websites require the use of cookies to function, regardless of advertising, so the practice of gaining consent for every piece of data placed on users' machines could bring the Internet grinding to a halt, he suggested.

"Any disruption of the surfing activity would negatively impact the value of the services users receive... We are looking forward to focusing on unleashing Europe's potential to fund content and services with the support of policy makers in Europe," he commented.

So far the following companies have committed to the framework in Europe:

24/7 Real Media
Adconion Media Group
AdGenie
Adnetik
AOL
ARBO Interactive
Audience Science
BBC Worldwide
BlueKai
Cognitive Match
CPX Interactive
CrimtanCriteo
Adatvantage
Financial Times
Google
Guardian News & Media
Hi-Media
Independent Digital
Lotame
Media6degrees
Microsoft
Nugg.ad
Orange
PRISA
Profero
Sanoma
Specific Media
Struq
tectonic
The Irish Times
Tribal Fusion
Telegraph Media Group
United Internet Media
ValueClick Media
Vibrant Media
Weborama
Yahoo!
Yell

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack Marshall

Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011. 

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