Privacy Watchdog Brings Transparency and Choice to Mobile Video Ads

Arlington, VA – August 20, 2018 – Today, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program released the first decision under its newest enforcement initiative, bringing a video ad technology company into compliance with online privacy best practices. Vdopia, Inc.’s Chocolate, a mobile video ad exchange and mobile SDK mediation platform, updated its data privacy practices to ensure consumers are provided with notice and choice when video ads tailored to their interests are served through mobile apps. Through revisions to its privacy disclosures, its opt-out mechanisms, and its contracts with third parties, Chocolate fully embraced the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Principles for interest-based advertising (IBA).

“Self-regulation can keep pace with the evolving mobile ads market, adapting general privacy principles to meet novel and complex ad implementations,” said Jon Brescia, Director of Adjudications and Technology for the Accountability Program. “Today’s decision is proof of that.”

During routine monitoring of a popular dating app, the Accountability Program observed Chocolate collecting user data for IBA, including device identifiers and precise geolocation data. Following a review of Chocolate’s business practices and privacy disclosures, the Accountability Program found that the company did not meet the requirements for transparency and control under the Principles.

Chocolate immediately indicated its strong support for consumer privacy and self-regulation and worked diligently to come into compliance with the full suite of DAA Principles.
Chocolate:

  • improved its disclosures describing its own IBA practices,
  • provided enhanced notice on its own website,
  • added a tool for opting out of IBA in mobile apps,
  • agreed to revise its contracts to require that its partners get consent before collecting precise location data through consumers’ apps for IBA,
  • added instructions to its privacy disclosures explaining how to revoke in-app location data permissions on smartphones, and
  • extended the lifespan of its web-based opt out to five years.

In its December 2017 Compliance Warning, the Accountability Program determined that technical standards for video advertising were sufficiently established to support the delivery of up-front, real-time notice of IBA—or “enhanced notice”—alongside video ads. Since Chocolate does not control the ad experience directly, it must work with its partners to ensure consumers receive enhanced notice, a practice fully contemplated by the DAA Principles. By updating its agreements with partner companies up and down the ad-serving chain, Chocolate is doing its part to ensure that enhanced notice is provided to consumers when video ads are served in mobile apps and that the consumer’s consent is obtained before precise geolocation data is collected and used for IBA purposes.

Today’s case release brings to 90 the public actions taken by the Accountability Program.