About the NAI
Founded in 2000, the not-for-profit Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) is the leading self-regulatory association exclusively focused on third-party online and mobile advertising. Almost every Internet ad served in the United States involves the technology of one or more of the NAI’s approximately 100 member companies. NAI members provide the infrastructure for the Interest-Based Advertising that enables a thriving and diverse market of ad-supported free content and services consumers have come to expect and enjoy. The NAI’s role is to help promote consumer privacy and trust in this market by creating and enforcing high standards for responsible data collection and use practices online and in mobile environments among its members.
With support from our member companies, the NAI helps to set the bar for how third-party advertising networks manage consumer privacy. The NAI accomplishes this through a body of self-regulatory policies – the NAI Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct – and through a robust compliance and enforcement program that helps members meet these high standards, and holds them accountable.
The NAI’s Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct imposes notice, choice, transparency, education, and data security requirements on members, along with other obligations with respect to the collection and use of data for Interest-Based Advertising.
NAI members are committed to empowering consumers to make informed choices about the collection of data for Interest-Based Advertising. In addition to the centralized choice tool and educational resources hosted on the NAI site, NAI members are leading the industry in adopting consumer-friendly tools such as a standard icon, preference centers, and creative educational content.
As digital advertising content continues to grow and diversify, new technologies emerge, and new laws and regulations are put forward, the NAI will remain a vigorous advocate for responsible online advertising standards. With effective self-regulation, everyone wins – industry, regulators, and most importantly, consumers.
NAI's Mission and Philosophy
The NAI’s mission is to promote responsible business and data management practices by its members, who are participants in the third-party online advertising industry. Through standards developed with a broad peer review process, and strong compliance efforts, the NAI’s self-regulatory program is backed up by accountability and enforcement.
Our philosophy stems from the idea that the NAI is a place to develop, discuss, and champion third party industry best practices in online privacy and data management. We believe that flexible self-regulation, backed up by compliance and enforcement, is better for both consumers and the industry than government regulations or legislation that cannot evolve as technology and business models evolve. The NAI helps to protect the viability of a system that provides the free, ad-supported, diverse online content that consumers have come to expect by helping to ensure responsible data management and respect for consumers’ preferences online. We believe that responsible and transparent business and data management practices promote consumer trust and confidence.
Our industry is evolving rapidly – new technologies and business models are introduced almost daily – but if we can apply widely-accepted principles of notice, choice, transparency, and accountability industry-wide, we’ll be poised to help consumers understand and embrace the benefits of Interest-Based Advertising.
History of the NAI’s Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct
The NAI’s Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct was first adopted in 2000, revised in 2008, and further revised in 2013. The Code is regularly reviewed in an effort to anticipate and respond to practical questions, technical and business process changes in our industry, and new issues raised by policymakers and advocates.
The latest revision to the Code, completed in 2013, was the result of the convening of a Code Revision Working Group in February 2012. The Working Group was composed of dozens of NAI member companies who held numerous meetings over several months. The Working Group, the NAI Board of Directors and NAI staff members evaluated the current advertising ecosystem and convened numerous times to discuss topics such as: (1) changes in the ecosystem that the Code should address; (2) notice requirements; (3) choice requirements; and (4) prohibited uses of data collected for Interest-Based Advertising. From that work, the NAI developed an updated draft Code of Conduct that was put out for public comment in March 2013. Both prior to publishing the draft and during the comment period, NAI staff solicited and received feedback and comments from the NAI’s diverse membership. The 2013 NAI Code was approved by the NAI Board of Directors and announced at the NAI Summit in May 2013. It became effective on January 1, 2014.
How Self-Regulation Works
Meaningful self-regulation requires the constant reevaluation of new technologies, new business models, and new policy developments, a process that the NAI implements through its Code revision activities. At NAI, we regularly review current policies and craft new ones so that best practices evolve organically and in coordination with our industry. At NAI, we think creatively about the application of fair information practice principles in our ever-changing digital landscape. Self-regulation works because it provides more flexibility than government-imposed regulations. NAI’s Code is developed by experts who have an understanding of the inner working of our sector.
The key to industry self-regulation is rigorous compliance efforts, tough enforcement and accountability. NAI’s compliance team accomplishes this through robust enforcement of the NAI Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct.
Marc Groman, President and CEO of the NAI, leads the organization’s growth and helps set the agenda and strategic priorities. Marc brings a unique perspective to his role, having engaged with privacy issues for over a decade from nearly every angle – government litigator, senior policy advisor, compliance officer, and legislative staff. He is passionate about self-regulation and believes that industry must proactively address evolving privacy challenges.
Marc reports to a board of directors comprised of 12 online advertising privacy and compliance veterans.
The Executive Committee of the Board includes:
- Douglas Miller, Vice President and Global Privacy Leader, AOL; Chairman, NAI Board of Directors
- Alan Chapell, President, Chapell and Associates; Vice-Chairman, NAI Board of Directors
- Matthew Haies, Vice President & General Counsel, Xaxis; Secretary, NAI Board of Directors
- Shane Wiley, Vice President of Privacy & Data Governance, Yahoo!; Treasurer, NAI Board of Directors
The entire Board of Directors can be found here.
NAI’s Compliance Team
NAI’s team of lawyers and technologists help promote members’ compliance with the NAI Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct and assist the NAI in its core mission of reinforcing responsible business and data management best practices among its membership through the development and enforcement of high standards. The compliance and enforcement program is led by Noga Rosenthal, NAI’s General Counsel and Vice President for Compliance and Policy. Noga’s team includes:
- Jack Hobaugh, Counsel & Senior Director of Technology
- Anthony Matyjaszewski, Associate Counsel Compliance & Technology
- Charles Simon, Policy & Compliance Analyst, Technology Lead
- Shaq Katikala, Compliance & Technology Fellow
The NAI is the organization for third-party online advertising technology companies, including networks, exchanges, DMPs, SSPs, RTB platforms, analytics companies, and service providers. Our nearly 100 member companies have demonstrated their commitment to consumer privacy and online advertising best practices. While primarily focused on the United States marketplace, NAI members include European, Canadian, and South American companies. A full list can be found here.
Membership in the NAI
NAI members are primarily third-party advertising technology companies who enable web content and service providers to deliver high-quality and free or low-cost content to consumers (including news, entertainment, and communication). The NAI is the only member organization that specifically serves the needs of this key market sector.
NAI members can expect the following benefits immediately upon joining the organization:
- Earn brand business and consumer trust.
- Shape the future of Interest-Based Advertising best practices and innovation.
- Stay informed on self-regulation standards and breaking news through access to regular webinars, member communications, and meetings.
- Gain access to NAI experts for corporate, sales, and client summit agendas as well as for webinars and industry research.
- Collaborate with industry leaders and peers.
- Work closely with the NAI compliance team to identify and address potential NAI Code violations.
The NAI reviews prospective members’ Interest-Based Advertising practices to help confirm that they have policies and procedures in place that are capable of meeting NAI’s high standards for consumer privacy. Nearly all of our members have had to change at least one business practice or disclosure to comply with the NAI’s Code of Conduct.
Members are required to maintain the high standards reflected in the NAI Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct. The NAI helps members stay informed on evolving policies, best practices, and current issues through NAI-hosted webinars, member communications, and meetings. However, the NAI does not provide legal advice to members or assure that compliance with the NAI Code will satisfy all legal requirements. Members are expected to abide by the laws applicable to their businesses. The NAI Code generally goes above the requirements of applicable laws, but to the extent there is a conflict between the NAI Code and a member’s obligations under applicable law, the member should abide by the applicable law.
It is not easy to become an NAI member and we designed it that way. But the rewards are clear. If two companies offer the same services, but only one is a member of NAI, the choice should be obvious: the NAI member has demonstrated its commitment to transparent and responsible data management practices.
How the NAI Code of Conduct Works
The NAI Code of Conduct is a set of self-regulatory principles that help guide our members’ approach to privacy in connection with the collection and use of data for Interest-Based Advertising and related business models. While NAI member companies generally collect data that is not customarily regarded to be personally identifiable, and is not defined as such in the NAI Code, the Code requires NAI members to nevertheless provide notice and choice with respect to the data collected and utilized to offer Interest-Based Advertising. The Code also limits the types of data that member companies can use for advertising purposes, and imposes a host of substantive restrictions on member companies' collection, use, and transfer of data used for Interest-Based Advertising. The NAI Code of Conduct can be found here.
The NAI Code: Compliance and Enforcement
The NAI mandates that member companies provide users a means to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising. The NAI opt-out tool is a simple web-based utility that allows users to opt out of receiving targeted ads from one, some, or all member companies. Confirming the proper functioning of the NAI opt-out tool is one of the central functions of the NAI compliance effort. NAI uses technical tools to continuously monitor and help identify technical malfunctions or other errors that might result in an opt-out failure.
The NAI relies on different tools to assess the status of compliance with business process and technology aspects of the NAI Code:
- NAI members complete a detailed questionnaire and provide specific assurances of compliance during NAI’s annual mandatory review process. During this process, members of the NAI compliance staff review members’ business practices and interview company officials to assess if companies follow the NAI Code.
- Ongoing compliance with the opt-out tool is monitored through NAI’s technical compliance tools that scan the web to detect possible issues with recognizing and honoring opt-out requests.
While technical monitoring of the opt-out functionality occurs throughout the year, the questionnaire responses during the annual review provide NAI with a snapshot in time of compliance with other requirements of the NAI Code.
The NAI takes a proactive approach in helping members address and fix the issues detected by these compliance tools. If found not in compliance, a member can work with NAI staff to implement changes in the company’s practices. This process, which necessarily relies on input from members, is intended to help member companies identify potential issues with business practices governed by the NAI Code before they become significant and costly problems. In addition to conducting annual compliance reviews and automated monitoring of member companies’ technologies, NAI staff also investigates public allegations of non-compliance with the NAI Code, whether raised by media reports, advocates, academics, or any other source.
Potential Consequences for Failure to Comply with the NAI Code
Potential violations, like short-term technical glitches in opt-outs, can often be quickly remedied and are viewed to be non-material. If a potential material compliance violation is uncovered through NAI’s annual review process, manual and automated monitoring, or an investigation, NAI staff may refer the matter to the NAI Board of Directors with a recommendation for sanctions. If the Board determines that the member has materially violated the Code, the NAI may impose sanctions, including suspension or revocation of membership, public identification of the violation, and referral of the matter to the Federal Trade Commission.
Consumers Make More Informed Choices About IBA
The NAI seeks to empower consumers to make meaningful choices about Interest-Based Advertisements by providing information and tools that are easy to understand and use. We provide resources to educate consumers on current issues related to Interest-Based Advertising, and our members donate billions of ad impressions to raise awareness and point consumers to these and other resources.
The NAI also provides a framework to help its members honor consumer preferences. Every NAI member company is required to provide choice through the NAI website. In addition, NAI requires our members to include opt-out tools and disclosures on their own websites. Moreover, NAI companies support the Ad Choices icon, just-in-time notice embedded in or around the advertisements consumers see online.
The NAI Code and Regulatory Compliance
The NAI offers a strong self-regulatory framework that is flexible and represents a sound interpretation of fair information practice principles in the third-party advertising space. While we work with policymakers and legislators on the development of these principles, we know that their interpretations may not always be identical to the NAI view. Compliance with state and federal laws and regulations is the responsibility of the individual member company. As a 501(c)(6) trade association, the NAI represents the industry and cannot act on behalf of individual companies nor advise members on their individual legal obligations. The NAI can assure our members and other stakeholders that we are committed to a framework of sound privacy principles, to addressing perceived gaps in our Code, and to a strong and reliable enforcement process.
NAI and Other Industry Organizations
NAI membership is made up of nearly 100 companies that are third parties or intermediaries in the online advertising ecosystem, including networks, exchanges, demand side platforms and DMPs. NAI is an active participant and member of the Board of Directors of the Digital Advertising Alliance. The Alliance, as well as other organizations, covers broader parts of the digital advertising ecosystem than NAI. For example, there are organizations for brands and advertisers, for data brokers and ISPs, for social networks, and others. In contrast, NAI represents third-party advertisers, and the NAI Code applies exclusively to our members.