The icon -- intended to provide enhanced notice of behavioral
targeting and allow users to opt-out -- will look the same as the
one seen across the web, with one big caveat. Rather than appearing
directly on FBX display ads, the symbol will show up only when
users mouse over the gray "x" displayed above the ads shown on
Facebook's right rail.
Even the "x" only appears when someone mouses over it, so people
not familiar with the feature won't always be made aware that an ad
was targeted using third-party data gathered elsewhere online.
On the face of it, the move is progress for the industry's most
pervasive self-regulatory ad privacy program. However, whether the
implementation satisfies the original mission of the Digital
Advertising Alliance program is up to debate.
Facebook has suggested its users are accustomed to ad related
information appearing in this format. Currently, the "About this
ad" option shown in FBX ads link to opt-out pages provided by the
DSP partner that enabled the ad.
"We have always given our users the ability to provide feedback
on and control the ads they see on Facebook, by hiding, reporting,
or clicking through to learn more about why particular ads are
being served, said Brian Boland, Facebook's director of product
marketing, in a statement e-mailed to Ad Age. "Giving advertisers
the ability to implement the AdChoices icon provides another
option; another mechanism of control."
Implementing the icon, which brands and agencies use for big
online display campaigns, could be seen as another step toward
Facebook's third-party ad network. Some advertisers won't buy
behavioral campaigns across the web without it.
But Facebook's manner of implementing the icon--seen only when a
user mouses over the ad--raises questions as to whether it complies
with Federal Trade Commission guidelines calling for "clear and
prominent notice" when an ad is behaviorally targeted.
"I knew that would be the reaction of some people," said Genie
Barton, director of the Online Interest-Based Advertising
Accountability Program, which is part of the Advertising Self
Regulatory Council and Council of Better Business Bureaus. "We
wanted first of all to get something up," she said. "This is a
pretty fast ramp-up for a new system." The icon will be displayed
in desktop FBX ads only since the FBX system does not operate in
the mobile environment.
Ms. Barton and her staff worked directly with Facebook to come
to an agreement regarding the icon starting soon after the company
launched its FBX offering in September.
The end result affects lots of companies, from the DSP partners
in Facebook's FBX program to media agencies buying ads on the
exchange. For instance, the absence of the icon on Facebook has
caused headaches for agencies including Publicis-owned
Vivaki, which encompasses Digitas, Razorfish, Starcom
MediaVest and Zenith Optimedia.
The digital ad buyer keeps records of its clients' behavioral ad
campaigns, including those that run on Facebook's exchange, to
ensure compliance with the DAA initiative. Lawmakers and the FTC
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.
Most of Vivaki's campaign-compliance reporting is done
automatically through a relationship with Evidon, one of two firms
approved to serve the icon and manage compliance reporting. It is
not clear whether the Facebook implementation will enable automated
reporting for firms like Vivaki. The DSPs requesting the icon in
their ad calls will choose the landing pages for the icon.
"If there is a business that feels that this solution won't let
them serve the icon appropriately, they have only to let me know,"
said Ms. Barton.
"We need the publishers to adopt the industry standard," said
Grace Liau, senior VP for Vivaki, when speaking with Ad Age
about the issue last month. "We
cannot have everyone embrace it in their own flavor," she said.
Facebook will start including the icon in FBX ads by the end of