About the NAI
What does the NAI do?
Founded in 2000, the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) is the leading self-regulatory association exclusively focused on third-party online advertising. With nearly 100 members, just about every Internet ad served in the US involves the technology of one or more NAI companies. These third-party services are crucial for a diverse Internet ecosystem and digital economy as they help to facilitate the dynamic, free, ad-supported Internet that consumers love and expect. But privacy and consumer trust are also crucial. The NAI's role, therefore, is to ensure the health of the online ecosystem by maintaining and enforcing high standards for data collection and use in online advertising. With buy-in and support from our member companies, the NAI sets the bar for online privacy through a body of self-regulatory policies – the NAI Code – and through a robust compliance enforcement program that helps members live up to our high standards, but holds them accountable when they don't.
What is the NAI’s mission?
The NAI’s mission is to create, draft, and oversee the self-regulation of the third-party online advertising industry through enforceable standards and ongoing compliance efforts. Our self-regulatory program is backed up with accountability, serious compliance, and enforcement.
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. The NAI employs a comprehensive compliance and enforcement program to verify ongoing member compliance with these obligations.
Our 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 our site, NAI members are leading the industry in adopting consumer-friendly tools such as a standard icon, preference centers, and creative educational content.
Why does self-regulation work?
Meaningful self-regulation requires the constant reevaluation of new technologies, new business models, and new policy developments. At NAI, we continuously adapt old policies and craft new ones so that best practices evolve organically and in lockstep with our industry. And we do it with buy-in from industry. We think creatively about the application of fair information practice principles in our ever-changing digital landscape. The government is simply not as nimble and as tapped into the inner working of this industry, which is why we need a smart, efficient and effective strategy for self-regulation.
Regulators have stated that industry self-regulation only works when it is backed up by rigorous compliance efforts, tough enforcement and accountability. Our compliance team demonstrates year-after-year that self-regulation works through robust enforcement of the highest standards and NAI-wide compliance with the Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct.
Why is the NAI’s work important?
NAI members provide infrastructure that enables a thriving and diverse market of ad-supported free content and services. The NAI’s role is to preserve consumer trust in this market by setting the bar for responsible data collection and use practices online and by ensuring our member companies meet that bar.
As online advertising continues to grow and diversify and new technologies emerge, the NAI will remain a vigorous advocate for responsible online advertising standards. With effective self-regulation, everyone wins – industry, regulators, and most importantly, consumers.
What are the NAI’s core values?
Our philosophy stems from the idea that the NAI is a place to develop, discuss, and champion industry best practices in online privacy and data management. We believe that flexible self-regulation, backed up with compliance and enforcement, is better for the industry than regulation or legislation that can’t evolve as technology and business models evolve. We do the work we do for the benefit of our industry, yes, but most importantly, to protect the viability of a system that provides the free, ad-supported, diverse online content that consumers have come to expect. To continue to provide this, we firmly believe in responsible data management and respect for consumers’ preferences online. We believe 100% that responsible and transparent business and data management practices promote consumer trust and confidence. If we’re upfront about Interest-Based Advertising and what we do, perhaps consumers will embrace it without apprehension. Our industry is evolving so rapidly – new technologies and business models are introduced almost daily, it seems – but if we can apply well-accepted principles of notice, choice, transparency, and accountability industry-wide, we’ll be poised to overcome these challenges.
Who runs the NAI?
Marc Groman, executive director of NAI, leads the organization’s growth and ongoing efforts to develop and maintain high standards for Interest-Based Advertising. 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 privacy challenges presented by new technology and business models.
Alongside a staff of seven, Marc reports to a board of directors comprised of online advertising privacy and compliance veterans. The Executive Committee of the Board includes:
- Alan Chapell, President, Chapell and Associates; Vice-Chairman, NAI Board of Directors
- Noga Rosenthal, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, 24/7 Media and Media Innovation Group; 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.
Who are the members?
The NAI is the organization for third-party online advertising technology companies, including networks, exchanges, DMPs, SSPs, RTB platforms, analytics companies, and service providers. All of our nearly 100 member companies have demonstrated their commitment to consumer privacy and online advertising best practices. While primarily focused on the U.S. marketplace, NAI members include European, Canadian, and South American companies. A full list can be found here.
Who can join?
NAI members are primarily comprised of third-party advertising technology companies that enable web content and service providers to provide high-quality, free, and low-cost content to consumers (including news, entertainment, and communication). NAI recognizes this unique position and is the only member organization that specifically serves the needs of this key market sector.
What is the application process?
Before becoming a member, companies must demonstrate a serious commitment to brand integrity, consumer trust, and transparency. The NAI reviews prospective members’ Interest-Based Advertising practices to ensure that they meet our 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 strictly-enforced Code of Conduct. We help members through this process. Members are required to maintain high standards, and we help them stay informed on evolving policies, best practices, and hot issues through NAI-hosted webinars, member communications, and meetings.
We know that it is not easy to become a member – 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.
What are the standards that NAI enforces for members?
The NAI Code of Conduct is a set of self-regulatory principles that guide the organization’s enforcement. The Code requires NAI member companies to provide notice and choice with respect to 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 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.
In addition to the requirements imposed by the NAI Code of Conduct, the NAI has also adopted certain policies, required of all members. You can read about the NAI's policies regarding health-related targeting here, and about the NAI's policies for transparency and control with respect to the technologies used for Interest-Based Advertising here.
Does the NAI help companies ensure compliance with the prerequisites for membership?
The NAI is committed to proving the validity and sustainability of self-regulation in building a safe and mutually beneficial online environment for both consumers and advertisers. Because of our rigorous requirements for membership, nearly 100% of all current NAI members had to change at least one practice or disclosure in order to be accepted as an NAI member. We also have an annual mandatory review process to help members remain compliant with our strict standards. During this process, we probe into our members’ business practices and ask tough questions to help companies follow the NAI Code as business models evolve. This ongoing compliance work helps member companies identify potential issues with business practices before they become significant and costly problems.
How often does the NAI check up on member compliance?
The NAI keeps a constant, watchful eye on compliance across its members. In addition to annual reviews, ongoing compliance is monitored through NAI’s compliance tools that scan the web to detect possible issues. The NAI takes a proactive approach in helping members address and fix the issues detected by these compliance tools before they lead to bigger problems. Outside of its membership, the NAI is involved in consumer education initiatives, and its executive team leads efforts on the front lines of the media and industry events to ensure a fair, balanced debate around compliance and online best practices.
How does the NAI enforce compliance with the Code? What are the ramifications for failing to comply?
NAI’s self-regulatory program is backed up by enforcement. In addition to conducting annual compliance reviews and automated monitoring of member companies’ technologies, NAI staff also investigates all public allegations of non-compliance with the NAI Code, whether raised by media reports, advocates, academics, or any other source. If NAI staff uncovers a material compliance violation through an annual review, manual and automated monitoring, or an investigation, staff may refer the matter to the NAI Board of Directors with a recommendation for sanctions. If the Board determines that the member has 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.
What are the benefits for members?
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, webinars and industry research.
- Take action in NAI public policy efforts.
- Collaborate with industry leaders and peers
- Work closely with the NAI compliance team to identify and fix privacy issues that could potentially lead to more serious problems with regulators, business partners, and consumers.
How does the NAI help consumers make more informed choices about online advertising?
The NAI seeks to empower consumers to make meaningful choices about interest-based advertisements by providing current information and tools that are easy to understand and use. We provide comprehensive resources to educate consumers on current issues related to online privacy and 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 businesses honor consumer preferences and act responsibly. Every NAI member company is required to provide choices through both the NAI and Digital Advertising Alliance websites. In addition, NAI requires our members to include opt-out tools and comprehensive disclosures on their own websites. Moreover, NAI companies support the nearly ubiquitous Ad Choices icon, just-in-time notice embedded in or around the advertisements consumers see online.
What is the relationship between the NAI and other industry organizations?
We have different and complementary functions with other industry organizations, and in many cases we work hand in hand. For example, NAI is an active participant and member of the Board of Directors of the Digital Advertising Alliance. One important point of differentiation is the NAI membership, which is made up of nearly 100 companies that are third parties or intermediaries in the online advertising ecosystem. Whether they are networks, exchanges, demand‑side platforms, DMPs, we are third parties. Other organizations, for example the Digital Advertising Alliance, cover broader parts of the ecosystem. There are organizations for brands and advertisers, data brokers and ISPs, social networks, and others. We have a specific focus on third parties, and we have high standards for our members.