What the New IAB Guidelines Mean for Behavioral Targeting

Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released the final “Networks & Exchanges Quality Assurance Guidelines,” a document that standardizes the information networks and exchanges provide to advertisers, allows more visibility into the inventory being sold, and ensures brands a higher level of safety. While privacy has been widely discussed in regards to behavioral targeting and has gained more notoriety recently in the field of social media, the section of the guidelines that most closely mirrors these concerns is around data disclosure.

The data disclosure section ensures there are contractual agreements in place, with publishers’ consent given to aggregate behavioral data for the purposes of using this information for behavioral targeting of advertisers off the publishers’ sites. Additionally, the data disclosure section addresses the need to identify data aggregators being utilized prior to the contractual agreement of using the inventory.

The main purpose of the disclosure section is to provide some sort of comfort level regarding a higher level of transparency as to how networks and exchanges should be disclosing data ownership. However, the compliance section ensures only that contracts are in place; it is not specific to what is in the contracts. Advertisers and agencies will still need to inquire further from networks and exchanges to ensure all disclosures are available. The data disclosure section merely recommends this process occur at some point during the planning and buying process, prior to a signed insertion order. By requiring disclosure as part of the RFP (define) and planning process, transparency levels are guaranteed prior to recommendations and commitments being made.

Overall, having more questionable “privacy” concerns identified through compliance could lead to giving more ownership and responsibility to the IAB and other associations that advocate for guidelines and policies such as these. A higher level of formalized positioning and responsibility for the IAB could release some of the on-again, off-again pressure imposed by the Federal Trade Commission to impose regulation.

The document, a long-time collaboration on behalf of many involved parties, has been received as a positive step within the advertising community from publishers, networks, exchanges, advertisers, and agencies, as these same parties were key players with the IAB in the development. Initial compliance (and the findings from compliance disclosure) is essential to help advertisers and agencies begin to create a greater form of distinction between the over 300-plus networks and exchanges.

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