Back to top


NAI is a non-profit organization championing the responsible and transparent use of information for digital advertising.  Since 2000, we’ve worked 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 Tailored 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 required 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 launched 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 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 joined 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 led 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 required 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 released its fourth annual compliance report, reflecting NAI member companies' continued commitment to the principles set forth in the NAI Code. The report also detailed 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 released for public comment a draft code of conduct for public comment

On May 16, after reviewing public comments, 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.  

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 expanded the organization’s self-regulatory program to cover data collected across mobile applications.  

2014: NAI released its 5th Annual Compliance report, showing that NAI members overwhelmingly met their obligations under the provisions of the Code and continued to uphold the NAI’s rigorous standards for providing notice and choice around interest-based advertising (IBA). The NAI compliance team reviewed 88 member companies. 

The NAI created a prestigious one-year compliance and technology fellowship for highly qualified graduates with an interest in the intersection of technology, advertising and policy. 

After 14 years, the NAI closed its Maine office and opened an office in New York City. Three key staff members are now in the NY office, including the General Counsel and VP for Compliance and Policy, the Counsel and Assistant Director for Policy, and the Technologist. The NAI also moved to new offices in Washington, DC and expanded its DC staff to better serve the NAI’s growing membership. 

NAI hosted its second annual Member Summit in Washington, DC. At the Summit, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill praised the work of NAI and our members, stating that "the NAI has been an exceptional leader in the self-regulatory community.” 

2015: The NAI released the 2014 Annual Compliance Report, the sixth report showing member companies' continued commitment to the principles set forth in the Code of Conduct. The report highlighted the success of the first compliance review under NAI's 2013 Code and showcased NAI's progress in developing new technology to match the pace of the ecosystem, including a new privacy disclosure scanner. The NAI compliance team reviewed 92 companies during this compliance year.

In May 2015, the NAI released an update to the Code of Conduct and its Guidance for NAI Members: Use of Non-Cookie Technologies for Interest-Based Advertising Consistent with the NAI principles and Code of Conduct (Beyond Cookies Guidance). In July 2015, the NAI released its Guidance for NAI Members: Determining Whether Location is Imprecise (Imprecise Location Guidance), which provided clarity on the types of location data that may require Opt-In Consent.

NAI also hosted its third annual Member Summit in New York City with a keynote presentation from U.S. Department of Commerce General Counsel Kelly Welsh.

In August 2015, NAI released an update to the Mobile Application Code in order to incorporate many of the changes in the 2015 Update to the NAI Code of Conduct and apply them to the mobile advertising ecosystem.

2016: Members engaged in Cross-App Advertising (CAA) are required to come into compliance with the Mobile App Code as of January 1, 2016.

On April 11, 2016, the NAI released the 2015 Annual Compliance Report, the seventh report showing member companies' continued commitment to the principles set forth in the 2015 Code of Conduct. The NAI compliance team reviewed 84 companies during this compliance year.

On, April 13, 2016, the NAI hosted its annual Member Summit on the West Coast for the first time, in downtown San Francisco. Both Jessia Rich, the FTC's Director, and Justin Erlich, Special Assistant Attorney General of California, spoke at the event.

Also in April 2016, NAI welcomed it's 100th member - evidence of the continued appeal of the NAI's compliance program.

In September, 2016 the NAI became one of the founding members of the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry coalition leveraging consumer insights and cross-industry expertise to develop and implement new global standards for online advertising.