The onset of spring brings two certainties: (1) the cherry blossoms blooming in Washington, DC, and (2) publication of the Network Advertising Initiative’s (NAI) Annual Compliance Report, which I am proud to announce that we published today. The Report is based on findings from the NAI staff’s comprehensive monitoring processes during the 2015 compliance period and covers members’ compliance with the 2015 Update to the NAI Code of Conduct (Code) for the 2015 calendar year.
I want to first thank my colleague NAI Counsel & Director of Compliance Anthony Matyjaszewski. Anthony worked tirelessly over the past several months to draft the Compliance Report and manage all aspects of its publication. Congratulations, Anthony!
The report focuses on NAI’s annual review of 84 member companies who, as part of their membership obligations, are required to undergo reviews of their compliance with the Code by NAI compliance staff. For me, as NAI’s General Counsel and Vice President of Compliance, the Report goes at the heart of what we do and shows why our organization is unique in the industry: NAI sets high standards for Internet-Based Advertising (IBA) and related business models, and we back up those standards with a comprehensive monitoring program that ensures members’ compliance and accountability.
NAI’s compliance program includes rigorous review of thousands of pages of questionnaire responses, privacy policies, website content, and other documents. NAI staff spent hundreds of hours reviewing member responses to detailed annual review questionnaires about compliance with Code. These reviews were coupled with interviews with each evaluated member, conducted by at least two staff members.
I am pleased to let readers of this blog know that that the report shows that members once again met their obligations under the provisions of the Code and demonstrated their commitment to consumer privacy and industry best practices. When NAI staff did find nonmaterial issues throughout the compliance period, our members worked with the staff to rectify any issues promptly, before they could turn into larger problems affecting greater numbers of consumers.
I commend our members for taking proactive steps to ensure that they remained in compliance with the updated Code, as 2015 was in many ways an extraordinary year for NAI. First, in May 2015, the NAI released the 2015 Code Update which made several important clarifications regarding the NAI’s interpretation of Code requirements. Also in May 2015, NAI published its Guidance for NAI Members: Use of Non-Cookie Technologies for Interest-Based Advertising Consistent with the NAI Code of Conduct. This document was the culmination of years of work by NAI members and staff in creating a framework for self-regulation of the use of emerging technologies for IBA. The NAI then released the 2015 Update to the Mobile Application Code in August to further clarify how the principles found in the Code apply in the growing mobile Cross-App Advertising ecosystem. This shows that our members continually demonstrate an ability and willingness to adapt and adjust self-regulatory frameworks to new and challenging issues as they emerge.
NAI’s Annual Compliance Report shows that effective self-regulation is the best method to continue responding to changing business practices, technological advances, and consumer expectations. Self-regulation is particularly effective in the ad tech space where innovation is exceptionally rapid. I am also pleased that, reflecting the commitment to strong self-regulation among advertising technology companies, 13 new companies joined the NAI in 2015.
Here are some highlights from the 2015 Annual Compliance Report:
- In 2015, members estimated that they donated billions of impressions to the NAI’s education campaign. This campaign helped to educate consumers about IBA and available choice mechanisms, leading to over 5.3 million page views of the NAI consumer education pages in 2015- nearly 20% more visits than in 2014.
- In 2015, the NAI website saw over 8.2 million unique visitors, up 45% from 5.6 million in 2014.
- NAI members delivered the “Advertising Option” Icon, or a similar icon or link, to consumers, trillions of times a month.
- In 2015 the NAI further developed its in-house tool, scanning through 300 webpages to monitor the privacy disclosures of existing members and applicants for changes.
- There were more than 7.5 million visits to the NAI opt-out page in 2015- over two million more visits than reported in 2014.
- In 2015, NAI received and reviewed approximately 5,700 consumer queries through its website, approximately 400 via telephone, and several letters through physical mail.
I am extremely pleased with the incredible efforts of our members and staff in completing the 2015 compliance process. Thank you to the members and staff for their continued hard work and commitment to the NAI Code. We encourage members to download and read the 2015 Compliance Report, which can be found at the link below.
Noga Rosenthal, General Counsel, VP for Compliance and Policy