Digital Advertising Alliance Argues Online Privacy Is All About Choice

Consumer research is the latest evidence of the need for an industry regulated data-driven marketing framework, US group says

Most Internet users would feel more confident that their privacy is protected online if advertisers and Web companies adhered to certain guidelines that limited the amount of data they can collect and offer consumers the ability to opt out of tracking, according to a new survey from the Digital Advertising Alliance, a coalition representing advertising associations and businesses.

The DAA is positioning the poll, which was conducted by Zogby Analytics, as the latest piece of evidence that a self-regulatory framework with broad industry participation can offer meaningful protections for consumer privacy on the Web.

What Is the Digital Advertising Alliance Mission?

The DAA is the group behind the Advertising Options icon that participating ad networks and advertisers -- including heavy hitters like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft -- are incorporating into their ads to provide users notice about how information about their interests is being collected and the ability to limit that type of tracking. Each month, more than 1 trillion ads containing the DAA icon are served globally, according to the group.

Formed three years ago, the DAA has been working to provide consumers with information and tools to understand and manage the data that is being collected about them online, while warning against government regulations that could limit advertisers' ability to tailor their messages to consumers' interests. Interest-based advertising, the DAA argues, is the engine behind much of the free content and applications available on the Web.

"We as an industry have in fact subsidized the commercial Internet," Lou Mastria, managing director of the DAA, said in an interview.

In the poll of just more than 1,000 Web users, 36.5 percent of respondents indicated that they would like to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. Mastria suggests that that figure, if anything, understates the value of tailored ads, which boast a conversion rate nearly twice as high as generic ads.

"It may not be obvious, they may not report it, but that's what the clickthroughs tell us," Mastria says.

"It's a little like electricity. You expect it to be there," he adds. "You turn on the Internet, you expect it to be relevant."

Navigating around the privacy minefield
Zuckerberg said what about privacy? Researchers aim to find out
Most users want to end tracking of personal data

When survey respondents were asked if they would feel more comfortable about how their information was being used if Web pages offered a mechanism to opt out of tracking, if there was a prohibition against collecting sensitive data about areas such as health and finance, or if there was an enforcement program to punish bad actors in the advertising space, a large majority (73 percent) said that either one or all of those protections would ease their privacy concerns.

The wording of that question was no accident -- companies that sign onto the DAA's framework are subject to each of those conditions. To date, the Direct Marketing Association and the Better Business Bureau, which are jointly responsible for enforcing DAA compliance, have brought 26 public actions against member companies, each of which has resulted in bringing the offending party into compliance, according to Mastria.

(International Data Group, the publisher of CIO.com, is one of the companies that participates in the DAA's self-regulatory privacy framework.)

DAA Will Focus on Education and Developing Its Own Do-Not-Track Effort

At the same time, when the pollsters asked what guidelines respondents believed are currently in place for advertisers' collection of users data, just 12.6 percent identified the contours of the DAA's program in the multiple-choice survey.

Mastria acknowledges that that finding suggests that group has more to do to get its message out to the public -- and the DAA is planning to refresh its public outreach campaign in the coming months -- though he stresses the youth of the program and sees even the modest awareness of just over 10 percent as a success.

"To have that number there, I think that's pretty good in three years. Any brand would be pretty lucky to have that recognition in that short a time," he says. "We're not done. Our education component isn't done."

Education is only one element of the DAA's work. The group has also been deeply involved with the efforts to develop a common framework for a do-not-track setting in Web browsers.

Then in September, the group announced that it was severing ties with the working group established by the World Wide Web Consortium to develop a do-not-track standard.

According to Mastria, the W3C has been focused on developing a technical solution to what he sees more as a policy issue, and that after two years with little progress to show, the DAA opted to launch its own effort to build a consensus around how do-not- track should work.

"We have to have a pretty high level of certainty that we are going to get somewhere, that we are going to put out a product," Mastria says of the W3C's work. "We just didn't see that in the offing."

The DAA has already convened one meeting with various stakeholders in its new do-not-track initiative, and Mastria says that he hopes to unveil a framework for the standard within the next few months.

Asked why he believes that the DAA-led effort can succeed where the W3C working group could not, Mastria replies: "That's a fair question. And honestly that's something we talked about."

But he points to the DAA's track record of pushing out codes of conduct that a broad array of advertisers have signed onto, which the group is now expanding to include the mobile Web.

"That's what gives me confidence," Mastria says. "We've done this before, and we can do it again."

Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.

Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and onGoogle +.

Read more about privacy in CIO's Privacy Drilldown.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Latest Videos

More Videos

who wants to date me I am 9 years old and i am a boy

Jeremy Hawkins

Sink a sub gaming experience signals Subway's renewed brand push

Read more

Great read. I agree that it should be a perfect balance between interacting with your customers and knowing your brand. As a business, yo...

Caroline Scott

7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game

Read more

Very true. Team development helps improve collaboration among the team members. I was able to improve my team's collaboration skills by t...

Quent Sinder

Why empowering others can help make you a great leader

Read more

CRM is a very good software that can help you succeed in your business. In my company, this system has allowed me to improve customer rel...

Anna Janicka

Sensis rebrands to Thryv and brings business software to Australian SMBs

Read more

AI Leasing Assistants have finally arrived for the multifamily industry. With so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which i...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Blog Posts

Unboxing 101 - How savvy influencer engagement can build a brand

The humble unboxing video is a powerful tool. Correctly executed, it harnesses consumer fandom, viral authenticity and brand design magic to deliver a high-impact message to a tightly targeted cohort of consumers.

Gali Arnon

Chief marketing officer, Fiverr

​Power to the people

Purpose is the ultimate statement of intent for many organisations. Why are we here? What are we trying to achieve?

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

The playbook to develop strategic brand moats

Warren Buffet is an unlikely ally for marketers. But his belief businesses need strategic moats that increase their value in the market while acting as barriers to competitors can offer marketers a new playbook for brand building and driving growth.

Fabian Di Marco

Founder and managing director, Tzu & Co

Sign in