Two of the biggest publishers on the web don't use the advertising industry's standardized ad-privacy program, and it's a problem for even the largest digital-media buyers.
Facebook and Amazon both offer targeted display advertising that can sometimes incorporate behavioral data from third parties. However, while nearly every other relevant media firm, ad network and ad-data firm either uses the industry's self-regulatory Ad Choices program or operates one that can be easily integrated with it, Facebook and Amazon do not.
Regardless, Publicis-owned Vivaki is still required to keep records of the ad campaigns that run on the two sites. It costs extra time and money, and perhaps most important, creates additional privacy concerns.
For its other digital ad buys, Vivaki uses centralized systems from Evidon or TrustE that help advertisers and agencies manage compliance with the Ad Choices privacy program, which is overseen by the Digital Advertising Alliance.
Depending on the size of the ad campaign, it can take anywhere from five to 20 hours of work to produce a required compliance report if the agency doesn't use a centralized system, said Grace Liau, senior VP for Vivaki, which encompasses Digitas, Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest and Zenith Optimedia.
"We need the publishers to adopt the industry standard," said Ms. Liau. "We cannot have everyone embrace it in their own flavor," she said.
Lawmakers and the Federal Trade Commission are stepping up pressure on the ad industry to improve its approach to consumer privacy, and online ad buyers such as Vivaki need to ensure compliance with self-regulatory guidelines.
Centralized reporting systems allow agencies and advertisers to access campaign-compliance information -- for instance, "If the FTC comes knocking and says, 'Hey, I want you to show me proof of compliance,'" said Ms. Liau.
How it works
The Evidon and TrustE systems generate tags that agencies and advertisers include in their ads. Those tags enable the systems to track the campaigns for compliance purposes. Advertisers can log into the systems to see campaign information such as the number of Ad Choices symbol impressions and whether or not the centralized systems enabled ad targeting opt-outs requested by consumers.
When publishers use first-party information gleaned on their own sites to target ads, it isn't necessary to include the standard self-regulatory Ad Choices icon, a small blue triangular symbol that users can click to reveal information about how the ad was targeted and to opt-out from future targeting. Indeed, members of the DAA are not actually required to use the standard icon or the centralized reporting systems from Evidon and TrustE. They must, however, abide by its guidelines of providing "notice and choice" -- information about why a user is seeing the ad and the opportunity to opt out of receiving such ads.
"The DAA AdChoices icon is but one means of providing notice," said Mike Zaneis, senior VP and general counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which is part of the DAA coalition.