Compliance Warning Enforcement Rollout Begins: Websites Must Give Consumers Real-Time Notice When Third Parties are Collecting Their Data for Personalized Ads

Arlington, VA – Oct. 28, 2014 – The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program) today released five decisions in which Answers Corporation, Best Buy, BuzzFeed, Go.com, and Yelp agreed to provide real-time, “enhanced” notice and choice to website visitors whenever non-affiliates collect their information for personalizing ads. These cases herald the Accountability Program’s promised enforcement of its 2013 Compliance Warning to website publishers to comply with the transparency and consumer control requirements of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA Principles) or face a public compliance action. The Accountability Program enforces these cross-industry standards on behalf of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a coalition of the leading advertising trade associations Today marks the 42nd enforcement action decided by the Accountability Program.

The Principles were adopted to improve consumers’ understanding of and control over interest-based advertising. Transparency and Consumer Control, which are the focus of these cases, are cornerstones of the OBA Principles. Enhanced notice is one of the major innovations of the Principles, delivering transparency about OBA when consumers need it most—at the precise time that their information is collected for OBA and they receive an interest-based ad. Previously such information was generally only found in the traditional privacy policy and OBA took place without consumer knowledge and control.

Notice and choice on interest-based ads are delivered through the familiar Advertising Option Icon (AdChoices Icon) . Over a trillion impressions of the AdChoices Icon are served each month, according to DAA statistics, evidence of the depth of compliance among advertisers and third parties responsible for delivery of in-ad enhanced notice. Today’s decisions remind website publishers that they must shoulder their responsibility to ensure that the delivery of enhanced notice is just as ubiquitous when third-parties are collecting data for OBA on their websites. In either situation, a consumer should be able to click on the enhanced notice link and go directly to a place where they can learn more about interest-based advertising and find an opt-out tool.

“Today’s cases are only the beginning of our enforcement of website notice and choice,” said Accountability Program Director Genie Barton. “We strongly urge companies who have questions about their compliance responsibilities under the OBA Principles to contact us before we contact you.”

Answers, Best Buy, BuzzFeed, Go, and Yelp’s commitment to participating in the Accountability Program’s voluntary enforcement process and their prompt compliance with the Accountability Program’s recommendations demonstrate that self-regulatory enforcement works. All segments of the advertising industry, from website publishers to third-party ad networks, are following these cross-industry best practices. The advertising industry’s commitment to providing consumers with transparency and control of interest-based advertising builds trust in the online marketplace and confidence in the vigor of the self-regulatory process.