About the NAI
Founded in 2000, the not-for-profit Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) is the leading self-regulatory association dedicated to responsible data collection and its use for digital advertising. NAI is the only membership organization comprised exclusively of third-party digital advertising companies. Almost every Internet ad served in the United States involves the technology of one or more of the NAI’s over 100 member companies. NAI members provide the infrastructure for Tailored Advertising that enables a thriving and diverse market of ad-supported free content and services. 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.
The NAI accomplishes this through a body of self-regulatory policies – the NAI Self-Regulatory Codes of Conduct – and through a robust compliance and enforcement program that helps members meet these high standards, and holds them accountable. The NAI Codes of Conduct is the “gold standard” for self-regulation of third party advertising, ad-tech, and related businesses. The NAI Code is a set of self-regulatory principles that not only require NAI member companies to provide notice and choice with respect to Tailored Advertising, but impose a host of substantive restrictions on NAI member companies' collection, use, and transfer of data used for Tailored Advertising. To learn more about the Code, please visit our FAQ page.
NAI members are committed to empowering consumers to make informed choices about the collection of data for Tailored 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 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. NAI’s strict standards and holistic view of the industry allow the organization and its members to provide the foundation for a thriving and diverse market of ad-supported free content and services.
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 Tailored Advertising.
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 revision and updates of the Code. We think creatively about the application of fair information practice principles in our ever-changing digital landscape. At NAI, we regularly review current policies and craft new ones so that best practices evolve organically and in coordination with our industry. NAI’s Code is developed by experts who have an understanding of the inner working of our sector. Self-regulation works because it provides more flexibility than government-imposed regulations.
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 Codes of Conduct.
Leigh Freund, President and CEO of the NAI, leads the organization’s growth and helps set the agenda and strategic priorities. Leigh brings more than a decade of substantive expertise in privacy, advertising, and public policy in the digital sector to her work at NAI. She has first-hand knowledge of the tremendous contributions third parties have made in the digital advertising space and she is a passionate believer in strong self-regulation. Leigh works with the NAI member companies to proactively address evolving privacy challenges.
Leigh reports to a board of directors comprised of 12 digital advertising, privacy and compliance veterans.
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 Codes of Conduct and assist the NAI in its core mission of reinforcing responsible business and data management best practices among its membership. The compliance and enforcement program is led by Anthony Matyjaszewski, Vice President, Compliance and Membership.
The NAI is the organization for third-party online advertising technology companies, including networks, exchanges, DMPs, SSPs, RTB platforms, analytics companies, and service providers. The advertising technologies deployed by our over 100 member companies provide considerable economic benefits across the online and mobile ecosystems, including for publishers, advertisers, and consumers. By joining the NAI, our members have demonstrated their commitment to consumer privacy and digital advertising best practices. While primarily focused on the United States marketplace, NAI members include European, Canadian, Asian 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 consists of leaders in digital and advertising media who are also privacy experts, meaning that our standards are tough and practical, reflective of NAI’s nuanced understanding of ad tech, advertising, data flows and members’ business models.
Your customers and key stakeholders view NAI Membership as confirmation that your company is committed to meeting NAI’s high standards of data collection and use for Tailored Advertising as well as the other substantive restrictions that the Code imposes on member companies.
NAI members can expect the following benefits immediately upon joining the organization:
- Earn brand business and consumer trust.
- Shape the future of Tailored Advertising.
- 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’ Tailored Advertising practices to help them 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 Codes of Conduct.
Members are required to maintain the high standards reflected in the NAI Self-Regulatory Codes 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 Codes will satisfy all legal requirements. Members are expected to abide by the laws applicable to their businesses. The NAI Codes generally goes above the requirements of applicable laws, but to the extent there is a conflict between the NAI Codes 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.
The NAI Codes: Compliance and Enforcement
The NAI mandates web-based member companies provide users a means to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising. The NAI opt-out tool is a simple utility that allows users to opt out of receiving targeted ads from one, some, or all member companies on the web. 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 member'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 Tailored Advertising
The NAI seeks to empower consumers to make meaningful choices about Tailored Advertising by providing information and tools that are easy to understand and use. We provide resources to educate consumers on current issues related to Tailored 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. NAI member companies that conduct Tailored Advertising are required to provide choice through the NAI website. In the mobile app environment, NAI requires members that conduct Cross-App Advertising to similarly provide consumers with an easy to use Opt-Out Mechanism. In addition, NAI requires its members to support enhanced notices, such as an icon embedded in or around the advertisements, and to include prominent access to opt-out tools from their own websites.
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 over 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.