Submitted by Anthony Matyjas... on May 22, 2017

The NAI is pleased to announce our newly finalized Guidance for NAI Members: Cross-Device Linking (Guidance)The Guidance was formally released to the NAI membership on May 22, 2017 and goes into effect on June 19, 2017 after a brief implementation period.

What to Know Now

The Guidance formally brings the linking of devices for ad targeting purposes under the scope of the NAI’s compliance and enforcement efforts. It applies the principles of the NAI Codes, including the NAI’s well-known high standards for notice and choice to the linking of devices in the digital advertising space. The NAI Cross-Device Guidance is consistent with the cross-device requirements of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA).

How Cross-Device Advertising Works

To make advertising more effective, Internet advertisers try to present consumers with ads that are relevant and useful.  In order to accomplish this, third parties like NAI member advertising technology companies and digital advertisers collect information across some of the sites consumers visit and apps they use.  [It is important to remember that the information collected is not personally identifiable, such as a name or social security number.  Rather, the information typically includes inferences about consumer interests and demographics.]  Then, the collected information is linked to a consumer’s browser or mobile device so that the best, most interesting ads can be served.

This system, developed over the past twenty years, is keeping pace with today’s digital environment.  Consumers are increasingly accessing the Internet through many different browsers and applications across many different devices.  When people use smartphones, laptops, and tablets, third-party digital advertising companies like NAI members may try to link those devices or browsers in order to better serve targeted ads

For example, an advertiser may seek to display an ad campaign for a product on a user’s laptop browser and again in the same user’s smartphone application. Similarly, an advertiser may be able to attribute a purchase made on a laptop to an ad initially seen on a smartphone as a measure of the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Self-Regulation’s Role

While technology changes, the NAI’s commitment to strong self-regulation remains steadfast.  The new Guidance spells out that the Codes now apply to members who are engaged in cross-device linking for digital advertising.  With the Guidance in place, consumers can expect the same high level of respect for privacy that has come to be synonymous with membership in the NAI.  In complying with the Guidance, NAI members will provide clear notice of cross-device activity and respect consumer choices.

What to Watch for

Look for a member webinar to be scheduled in the coming weeks to discuss the Guidance. NAI staff will also be available via email or telephone to answer questions or address concerns from NAI members.

Submitted by William Lee on April 26, 2017

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017 the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) hosted a fireside chat with Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen as part of their annual Global Privacy Summit in Washington, DC. The discussion, moderated by former Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Julie Brill, covered a number of areas of interest to NAI members.

Outlined below are five valuable takeaways:

1. The FTC has established a ‘substantial injury task force’

Acting Chairman Ohlhausen, revealed that the FTC has established a substantial injury task force aimed at clarifying the economic reasoning on consumer injury in privacy and data security cases. Ohlhausen suggested that the rate of technology change is making it increasingly difficult to assess what constitutes substantial harm to a consumer. The FTC needs to be conscious, Ohlhausen said, of weighing the benefits of enforcement against possible negative impacts on marketplace competition, which in itself can potentially be considered a harm to consumers. Ohlhausen believes the FTC’s Bureau of Economics is well positioned to provide guidance on this balancing act. The task force is currently an internal project at the FTC but input from external stakeholders will be sought at a later date. The format for the findings of the task force’s work is yet to be decided.

2. Process reform initiatives are underway at the FTC

Ohlhausen spoke of process reform efforts underway at the FTC to streamline the use of FTC resources.. For example, the Bureau of Consumer Protection and Bureau of Competition are trying to simplify the demands on businesses for information when issued with civil investigative demands (CIDs). Ohlhausen stressed that, while consumer protection is of paramount importance, efforts aimed at protecting consumers should not unnecessarily hinder legitimate business. As part of this process, the Bureau of Economics will be involved earlier in investigations to better inform agency decisions based on consumer harm.

3. Ohlhausen would like regulatory oversight of broadband providers to return to the FTC

Ohlhausen reiterated her recent support for Congress’ repeal of the FCC’s broadband privacy regulations. Ohlhausen declared that it does not make sense to classify ISPs differently from other entities that are collecting consumer data because this creates an uneven regulatory playing field and fragments consumer protection regimes. Ohlhausen stated that she, along with FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, would like to return regulatory oversight of ISPs to the FTC. The FTC had this authority until 2015 when the FCC effectively removed it by classifying broadband providers as common carriers. Returning this authority to the FTC, Ohlhausen and Pai believe, would establish a comprehensive and consistent framework for privacy and data security in the US. However, in the meantime, Ohlhausen suggested that protections for consumers can be provided by the FCC through the Communications Act.

4. Ohlhausen views net neutrality as a marketplace competition issue

Ohlhausen reiterated her previously publicized view that net neutrality is an issue of antitrust and competition. This assessment would mean that net neutrality could be effectively regulated under the FTC’s Section 5 authority. While this view is shared by FCC Chairman Pai, Ohlhausen stressed that there is not currently a formal plan for transitioning to a new system. When questioned about where the FTC would find resources to regulate ISPs - especially in the context of Federal cutbacks desired by the Trump administration - Ohlhausen noted that the FTC already has significant expertise in the area. Additionally, she suggested that if there were multiple violations placing strain on agency resources, they would justify a shift of authority to the FTC.

5. Ohlhausen asserts strong support for the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework

Ohlhausen emphasized her support for the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework. She stated that the FTC is committing resources to ensure that European regulators view the FTC as an effective enforcer and that the Framework continues to succeed. When questioned about the potential impact of current court cases in Europe related to standard contractual clauses on the Framework, Ohlhausen expressed confidence in the Framework. She predicted that its structure makes it more resilient to legal challenges than the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles were.

Submitted by NAI on April 12, 2017

We are thrilled to announce that new versions of our easy-to-use consumer choice tools for setting preferences regarding Interest-Based Advertising (IBA) data collection and use are available now!  Rolled out jointly with the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), the tools (initially launched in beta) are the first to offer user choice for both cookie-based and non-cookie technologies for IBA.

In short, the tools tell consumers what they need to know to quickly and easily set their preferences for the latest technologies in digital advertising data collection and use.

The most significant improvements to the tools are:

  • Enhanced user experience,
  • Ability for companies to easily disclose to consumers their use of both cookie-based and non-cookie technologies for digital Interest-Based Advertising (IBA)
  • A faster setup and response time during use, and
  • Improved controls for users to opt-out of such use.

The new versions of the tools represent everything that is great about NAI. Designed and developed by our technology experts, they are the product of two years of collaborative work between our staff and our member companies. Consistent, open communication with our members is a hallmark of NAI and the insight and feedback members provided on the new tools was invaluable.

The new choice tools also show why self-regulation works and is effective. Self-regulation provides flexibility to allow a constant re-evaluation of new technologies. NAI, working with its member companies, was able to enhance consumer choice tools to adopt and integrate new technologies.

What NAI member companies need to know:

What consumers need to know:

  • The updated tools offer a significantly improved consumer experience. You should expect a simplified, mobile-responsive interface; a reduced need to modify browser settings for successful opt-outs; and a real-time status check that reports the use of both cookie-based and non-cookie technologies. You can find the NAI tool online at
  • You can see a demo to learn how to use the tool on NAI’s YouTube channel at
  • If you have already used the old NAI or DAA choice tools to express your digital advertising preferences, those preferences will not be changed by the new version of the tools. But, because the updated tools cover both cookie-based and non-cookie technology, you should use the new versions if you wish to opt-out of companies using non-cookie technologies for IBA.

These tools reflect the ongoing collaboration between NAI and DAA, the two industry-leading self-regulatory organizations for digital advertising. We are proud of our work with the DAA on these updated tools, showcasing our industry’s dedication to transparency and enhancing consumer experience and choice in this ever-evolving landscape.

We hope you’ll check them out.

Submitted by NAI on March 22, 2017

Originally posted at

Extensive Consumer Research Defines First Set of the Most Objectionable Ad Experiences

Washington, DC, Brussels, March 22, 2017 — The Coalition for Better Ads today released initial Better Ads Standards for desktop and mobile web that reflect consumer advertising preferences in North American and European markets. The initial Better Ads Standards are based on comprehensive research in which consumers comparatively ranked different ad experiences presented to them while they read online articles. More than 25,000 consumers rated 104 ad experiences for desktop web and mobile web.

The Coalition’s research identifies the ad experiences in both North America and Europe that ranked lowest across a range of user experience factors, and that are most highly correlated with an increased propensity for consumers to adopt ad blockers. These results define initial Better Ads Standards that identify the ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability. Six desktop web ad experiences and twelve mobile web ad experiences fell beneath this threshold. The Coalition encourages the marketplace to use these results to improve the consumer experience.

“We are energized by how quickly this cross-industry Coalition was able to research and identify annoying advertising formats,” said Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next. “There is still much work to be done but we are out of the gate in our work to make the web less annoying for the average consumer.”

“The scope and nature of this research provides insight into how consumers view different online ad experiences, highlighting what’s working well, and what we need to re-think in order to secure more meaningful engagement,” said Nancy Hill, President and CEO, 4As. “The consumer preferences identified in the Better Ads Standards will be useful to our members who wish to take action to improve the online experience.”

During the Coalition’s research, consumers were asked to read articles on simulated high quality content pages, and then to rate comparatively the different ad experiences they received. These consumer preference ratings, as correlated with increased consumer propensity to use ad blockers, identified the following types of desktop ad experiences beneath the initial Better Ads Standard: pop-up ads, auto-play video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown and large sticky ads. For the mobile web environment, the following types of ad experiences fell beneath the initial Better Ads Standard: pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30%, flashing animated ads, auto-play video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads.

“We hope these initial standards will be a wake-up call to brands, retailers, agencies, publishers, and their technology suppliers, and that they will retire the ad formats that research proves annoy and abuse consumers,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “If they don’t, ad blocking will rise, advertising will decline, and the marketplace of ideas and information that supports open societies and liberal economies will slide into oblivion.”

“Tens of thousands of consumers have made their opinions clear through this robust research. Consumers in North America and Europe have similar views on online ad experiences they find annoying and disruptive,” said Bob Liodice, CEO of ANA. “All online ad industry constituents should take a hard look at the findings. They provide valuable insights for the development of consumer-friendly ad campaigns.”

The Coalition plans a broad range of educational activities for its members and others in the industry, including presentations via participating trade associations, conference participation and webinars. By making the research widely available, the Coalition aims to encourage industry participants to incorporate the findings into their efforts to improve the online ad experience for consumers. Journalists and interested parties can learn more about the research methodology, findings and initial Better Ads Standards at

“This comprehensive research and these initial Better Ads Standards provide great guidance on the role ad formats have on the user experience,” said Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe. “We look forward to using the data released today to engage our members about consumer ad preferences, and to upcoming phases of the Coalition’s research that we expect will contribute even more depth and breadth of coverage of European markets.”

The methodology used to support the initial Better Ads Standards is extensible to different global regions and to other digital environments, or to the measurement of new ad experiences in previously tested environments. The Coalition’s roadmap includes plans to conduct additional research on desktop web, mobile web and other environments across various regions including further testing throughout Europe, in North America, Asia and Latin America.

“The Coalition will build on this important work by expanding its efforts to other regions and ad formats,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). “The global reach of the Coalition’s membership and the continuing addition of new members support our goal to improve the advertising experience for Internet users worldwide.”

“As an industry we have a responsibility to find better ways of making great advertising and content that really engages people. It’s in everyone’s interest; better advertising leads to a better experience for the viewer and more effective advertising for brand,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing Officer for Unilever. “The work of the Coalition to identify consumer preferences around ad formats will be a highly useful and insightful tool for the brand builders, advertisers and advertising agencies who are working to improve the quality of advertising for the viewer while driving effectiveness and efficiencies for the brand.”

“These research results will serve as a foundation to the LEAN Scoring System, which is currently under development,” said Alanna Gombert, General Manager, IAB Tech Lab, and Senior Vice President, Technology and Ad Operations, IAB. “Now we have actionable results that can be used to create tools to improve the user experience across interactive screens.”

“This research will prove incredibly valuable to the marketers and advertisers who seek to responsibly leverage data to achieve deeper engagement with consumers,” said Tom Benton, CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). “With these insights and the initial Better Ads Standards, the full marketing ecosystem can move forward together to pursue better-performing ad placements and enhanced customer experiences.”

“The Coalition’s research is timely and useful,” said Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) President and CEO Leigh Freund. “NAI members are committed to a free and open internet which depends on digital advertising. As a result, it is important to ensure that consumers can interact with advertising in a mutually beneficial way. Our high standards for member practices address consumers’ privacy concerns, and the Coalition’s work to address consumer annoyance issues can help guide our members and all advertisers to ensure a better consumer experience.”

“Our members make huge investments in high-quality journalism, and those investments are still primarily sustained by advertising revenue,” said David Chavern, President and CEO, News Media Alliance. “This exhaustive research allows advertisers, agencies, publishers and everyone else involved in the advertising ecosystem to have a much better understanding of the kinds of ads that consumers like to see – and the ones they don’t respond to. It is exactly the type of information that will lead to the higher performance for digital advertising as a whole.”

Members and supporters of the Coalition, in alphabetical order, include the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), AppNexus, Association of National Advertisers (ANA), BVDW Germany (rep. IAB Germany), Data & Marketing Association (DMA), Digital Content Next, Facebook, Google, GroupM, IAB, IAB Europe, IAB France, IAB Tech Lab, IAB UK, Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), News Corp, News Media Alliance, Omnicom Media Group, Oriel, Procter & Gamble, Sovrn, Teads, The Washington Post, Thomson Reuters, Unilever, and World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). An additional 80 trade associations from around the world are affiliates of the Coalition for Better Ads. Companies and trade associations that wish to join the Coalition can learn more at


Brendan McCormick
70 Douglass Communications