History

NAI is a non-profit organization championing the responsible and transparent use of information for digital advertising.  Since 2000, we’ve been working with the leaders in online advertising to develop high standards for the collection and use of data and to provide consumers with the ability to exercise choice. The genesis of NAI was the need for a comprehensive self-regulatory framework for Interest-Based Advertising.

In 2013, the NAI extended its well-respected program and high standards to the next generation of digital advertising technologies by releasing a draft Code of Conduct for the mobile environment. Below is a brief timeline outlining our story of success and innovation.

2000: The leading network advertisers at the time — 24/7 Media, AdForce, AdKnowledge, Avenue A, Burst! Media, DoubleClick, Engage, and MatchLogic — established the Network Advertising Initiative to develop the first-ever framework for self-regulation of the online advertising industry. This groundbreaking effort led to the public release of the NAI Principles, a set of self-regulatory standards governing Interest-Based Advertising. The NAI also pioneered the creation of the industry choice page for consumers. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission unanimously applauded NAI for developing its innovative program, the first such program to address the use of non-personally identifiable data for advertising and the first to require consumer-facing notice and a choice mechanism.

2003 - 2006: During this period, the NAI established a division to represent legitimate email marketing companies working to fight the emerging threat of SPAM email practices, and to establish consensus-driven best practices for the email marketing industry. The NAI also published guidelines for appropriate privacy, transparency and choice controls for use of web beacons and convened the “eCommerce in the Age of Spyware” forum. These NAI-led policy efforts contributed to the development of appropriate public policy responses to consumer concerns about online advertising technologies.

2008: After a public comment period, the NAI completed a major update of the Code of Conduct, incorporating new restrictions on the collection and use of sensitive data and data related to children. The 2008 Code also requires an annual compliance report, detailing members’ compliance efforts. The effort was hailed as "a meaningful step toward protecting consumer privacy" and stakeholders praised the NAI for revising the Principles in an open environment with public participation.

2009: The NAI launches a consumer education page, providing a centralized location for a variety of informational articles, videos, and other creative content designed to educate users about Interest-Based Advertising. To raise awareness of these resources, NAI members have deployed billions of ad banners linking to the NAI’s educational page across their networks.

The NAI released its first annual compliance report. Compliance reports have been published every year since, demonstrating year-after-year that NAI member companies continue to meet their obligations under the NAI Code and to adopt best practices even where not required by the Code.

The NAI testified before a joint hearing of the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection and Communications, Technology and the Internet. The testimony focused on the economic benefits to Web content providers and consumers that result from Interest-Based Advertising and the steps taken by NAI members to o promote transparency and choice for Interest-Based Advertising.

2010: NAI joins the Digital Advertising Alliance, a non-profit organization of leading trade associations including the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and the NAI. The DAA was formed to provide consumers with enhanced transparency and control through the use of the AdChoices Icon.

NAI members lead industry efforts to develop and implement the standardized icon to provide a visible indication to consumers that an online advertisement may be targeting to their interests. The icon is now served trillions of times annually.

The NAI released the results of a first-of-its-kind study measuring the pricing and effectiveness of Interest-Based Advertising.  Based on proprietary data provided by twelve major advertising networks, the study found that in 2009, behaviorally-targeted advertising secured an average of 2.68 times as much revenue per ad as non-targeted “run of network” advertising.

2011: The NAI requires members to provide additional transparency to consumers regarding the use of health-related data used for Interest-Based Advertising purposes. Members are required to post on their websites any interest segments they use for Interest-Based Advertising purposes that are based on health-related conditions or treatments.

The NAI website witnessed explosive growth in 2011, with 8.5 million unique visits to the site overall and nearly 6 million unique visits to the NAI's opt-out page. 

2013: The NAI releases its fourth annual compliance report, which reflects NAI member companies' continued commitment to the principles set forth in the NAI Code. The report also details the NAI's planned initiatives for 2013, including the development of a revised NAI Code and of principles governing the collection and use of data on mobile devices.

On March 1, the NAI releases for public comment a draft code of conduct for public comment. The draft code would require NAI member companies to provide notice in and around the targeted ads they serve, explicitly limit the uses NAI members may make of data collected for interest-based advertising and ad delivery and reporting purposes, and provide new, comprehensive education and guidance for member companies on how to meet the obligations of the code.

On May 16, the NAI released the final 2013 Code of Conduct, which imposes rigorous education, notice, transparency, choice, and data security requirements on NAI member companies.  The final Code also reflects the expanded scope of the third-party ecosystem, in addition to offering flexibility in order to accommodate existing and emerging business models and practices.  The updated Code will formally be enforced starting in 2014. 

On May 21, the NAI held its inaugural Member Summit at the Glass Houses at the Chelsea Arts Tower in New York City.  The Summit themed “Third Parties and the Future of the Internet” featured keynote speaker Maureen Ohlhausen, Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, along with representatives from NAI member companies, including a CEO panel.  The panel topics included hot-button issues such as Do-Not-Track, the future of cookies and new technologies.

On July 24, 2013 the NAI released the final Mobile Application Code, which expands the organization’s self-regulatory program to cover data collected across mobile applications.