Accountability Program Brings AdChoices Icon to Facebook Exchange (FBX)

AdChoices Icon Will Give Facebook Users Additional Transparency and Choice about Advertisers’ Use of Consumer Behavioral Data on FBX

Arlington, VA – Feb. 4,  2013 The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program) today released a decision finding that Facebook has taken meaningful steps to increase transparency and choice by enabling third parties to provide the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Advertising Options Icon (AdChoices Icon or Icon) for interest-based ads served through Facebook Exchange (FBX).

The AdChoices Icon provides “clear, meaningful and prominent” notice and choice required by the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA Principles) when consumers are served ads based on their interests as inferred from prior Web browsing activity over time across multiple websites. When consumers click on the Icon, they are taken to a page where interest-based advertising is explained and where they can choose to opt out of interest-based ads.

The Accountability Program is an investigative unit of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). It enforces the OBA Principles.

Trillions of AdChoices Icons are served monthly on ads across the internet, bringing greater transparency and choice to consumers about interest-based advertising. Now the AdChoices Icon will also reach the billions who visit Facebook each month.

The Accountability Program began reviewing FBX as soon as it was out of beta to determine the roles of Facebook and its approved Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs or FBX partners). FBX enables advertisers using their own data, which could include prior Web browsing activity, to reach consumers when they are on Facebook. FBX is also designed so that Facebook does not gain access to this data. Further, to ensure that DSPs do not gain access to Facebook’s user profiles in order to retarget when the user leaves Facebook, Facebook hosts the final ad creative and serves it to Facebook users through its servers. This is a change from the general model in which the DSP serves the ad, including the AdChoices Icon.

Based on its review of how notice and choice about interest-based ads were provided on the FBX ad platform, the Accountability Program recommended that Facebook enable DSPs to use the AdChoices Icon for greater clarity.

Upon request of a DSP, Facebook has agreed to add the AdChoices Icon to the “About this ad” link available through the drop down menu, which appears when a user clicks on the grey “x.” In addition, Facebook will replace the current hover text message, “Report this ad,” with a more explanatory phrase, such as “Learn about Facebook Ads.”

Because these changes can be made by building on the current design and architecture of Facebook Exchange, they should be up and running before the end of the first quarter. As technology continues to evolve, Facebook also has agreed to continue to explore ways to optimize the transparency and choice that it provides to its users about interest-based advertising.

With these changes, Facebook will enable DSPs to provide consumers with additional signals about when ads are behaviorally based, while maintaining the separation already in place between the data known by the advertiser and Facebook. These changes will also enable DSPs to fulfill the OBA Principles’ enhanced notice and choice requirements when using the FBX platform to serve interest-based ads.

Facebook’s recognition of the importance of providing users a consistent notice and choice experience across the internet by integrating the AdChoices Icon into its FBX platform will introduce the AdChoices Icon to a wider audience.

This decision demonstrates the adaptability of the self-regulatory program to new business models and the strong support of all segments of the industry for the OBA Principles and Accountability Program. The Accountability Program’s decision commends Facebook for working diligently to implement the Program’s recommendations and for its commitment to self-regulation and to helping its users make informed choices about privacy.