Compliance Warning: Interest-Based Video Ads Require Transparency, Choice

Companies are on notice: comply with interest-based advertising rules by April 1, 2018, or risk Accountability Program action

Arlington, VA – December 11, 2017 – Today, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program announced that on April 1, 2018, it will require video advertisements to provide consumers with transparency and control with every interest-based video ad roll. The core of today’s compliance warning is simple: advertisers must deliver just-in time notice to consumers when serving interest-based video ads online and on mobile devices, and follow the other requirements set out under the well-known Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) self-regulatory principles for interest-based advertising (IBA). The Accountability Program already enforces these voluntary standards when companies are collecting and using data for IBA across websites, across mobile apps and across multiple devices associated with a particular person or household for interest-based advertising.

Enhanced notice is the cornerstone of the DAA Principles. This up-front notice must be provided whenever data is collected or used for IBA in browsers or mobile apps. The most well-known way of providing enhanced notice is through displaying the AdChoices Icon or another clear, meaningful, and prominent signal in or around an interest-based ad. Enhanced notice should take consumers to a place where they can learn more about a company’s IBA practices and how to opt out of IBA. In this sense, enhanced notice is the gateway to transparency and control for consumers, conveniently provided at the very time when they need to understand IBA and make their choice.

The Accountability Program has forborne from enforcing the enhanced notice requirement in the context of interest-based video ads to allow the video ad marketplace to innovate and mature. With the exponential growth of online video ad spend, we believe that the time is now right to set a date for enforcement of the enhanced notice rule. The DAA has released ad marker implementation guidelines for video ads. While we are mindful that not all companies have adopted the same video ad serving template, the Accountability Program is not requiring any specific technical implementation of enhanced notice. A company must simply provide enhanced notice in or around the interest-based video ad or have the first party do so on its behalf.

“When the original DAA guidelines were created, industry members all agreed to spend the considerable resources necessary to put the Accountability Program in operation,” said Genie Barton, VP of Digital Advertising at the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “As we move from one medium to another, the DAA and industry have worked together to implement our guidance, first to mobile devices, then in the cross-device context, and now in video advertising.”

Because we anticipate that some companies will still have to work on implementation strategies, the Accountability Program announced a grace period until April 1, 2018, for companies to adapt their practices in order to reach full compliance with the Principles. The Accountability Program invites companies that are concerned about meeting the deadline to contact it for confidential compliance advice.

Today’s release brings to 86 the public actions taken by the Accountability Program.