The Accountability Program, through its technology platform and staff research and monitoring, reviews the practices of companies in the advertising ecosystem that are collecting and using information across websites and over time to tailor ads to consumers’ interests and for other purposes covered by the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising and the Multi-Site Data Principles (collectively the Principles). When the Accountability Program determines that there may be a compliance issue regarding a company’s adherence to one or more of the Principles, the Accountability Program may, in its discretion, send the company a letter of inquiry asking the company to demonstrate its compliance with the Principle or Principles at issue. If, after receiving the company’s answer, the Accountability Program determines that further review is warranted, it will begin a formal review process in which it provides the company with guidance and recommendations. At the end of the formal review, the Accountability Program will publicly release a decision detailing the nature of the review and its outcome, along with a press release summarizing the decision. Decisions will provide guidance on the requirements of the Principles at issue for all companies in the advertising ecosystem subject to these requirements. Decisions will also discuss a company’s efforts to implement the Accountability Program’s recommendations to come into compliance with the Self-Regulatory Principles, as appropriate.
In instances where a company fails to participate in the review process or to implement the Accountability Program’s recommendations, the Accountability Program will issue a press release detailing the facts and the company’s response to the Accountability Program’s inquiry. In addition, the Accountability Program may, in its discretion, refer the matter to the appropriate government agency for further action.
In special circumstances, the Accountability Program may, as provided under its Procedures, choose to administratively dispose of the inquiry or to administratively close the case. Administrative Dispositions are made public. Administrative Closures are numbered for the record, but the names of the companies involved are not publicly available.
Click on a link below to read a decision:
|23andMe: 23andMe, a company that provides informational genetic testing services, did not know about the DAA Self-Regulatory Principles and therefore had not taken steps to ensure that its interest-based ads and its website provided the appropriate enhanced notice and choice. Upon learning that its retargeted ads did not comply with the OBA Principles, the company quickly worked with 3Q Digital, which was managing its ad campaign, to include the DAA AdChoices Icon on all its interest-based ads. 23andMe also revamped its website to include an enhanced notice link on every page of its website on which it was permitting third-party data collection for OBA. The company has also added the requisite statement of adherence to the DAA Self-Regulatory Principles to its website. Read the decision.|
|3Q Digital:3Q Digital, a digital marketing agency, managed all aspects of the 23andMe OBA campaign at issue. The company did not understand that it had an obligation to ensure that enhanced notice and choice were provided on interest-based ads it oversaw. Upon learning of the oversight, the company took immediate action to bring the 23andMe interest-based ads into compliance with the OBA Principles and to ensure all the other OBA campaigns it manages also comply with the OBA Principles. It also committed to educating its clients about the benefits of complying with the OBA Principles. Read the decision.|
|MediaMath: MediaMath provided the self-service demand-side platform used by 3Q Digital to manage and run the 23andMe OBA campaign in question. MediaMath, an early adopter of the OBA Principles, ensures all OBA campaigns are in compliance with the OBA Principles when providing its fully managed services, where it manages all aspects of a client’s campaign. However, when a client uses its self-service platform, the company requires the client to manually enable the enhanced notice and choice mechanism available within the MediaMath platform. Upon receiving the Accountability Program’s letter of inquiry, MediaMath sent a reminder to all its self-service clients about their obligations under the DAA Self-Regulatory Principles and detailed how to enable to AdChoices Icon to be automatically included in all OBA served through the MediaMath platform. The company also revised its onboarding materials to better educate its self-service clients about the notice and choice requirements of the OBA Principles and the benefits of compliance with the DAA’s industry standards. Read the decision.|
February 4, 2013 Case Decisions
|Facebook: In its response to the Accountability Program, Facebook explained that FBX was created to allow advertisers to reach their intended audience without disclosing private user profile information to advertisers or DSPs. No data is shared between companies participating in FBX and Facebook. Facebook designed FBX to ensure that its FBX partners have no access to Facebook’s user profile data and so that Facebook cannot access behavioral data collected by companies participating in FBX.Read the decision.|
|Kia: Kia responded to the Accountability Program that it supports the OBA Principles and uses the AdChoices Icon on its interest-based campaigns. Further, as part of its response, Kia instructed its media agency to ensure that all ad networks involved in any OBA campaign comply with the OBA Principles. The Accountability Program is pleased with Kia’s prompt action and commends Kia for taking steps to clarify its support of the OBA Principles to its agency and ad network partners.Read the decision.|
|Initiative:In response to the Accountability Program’s formal inquiry, Initiative confirmed that it has acted as Kia’s media agency. Initiative also stated that it supports the OBA Principles and has taken steps to educate clients such as Kia of the self-regulatory program. Finally, Initiative stated that it is working closely with Kia to help Kia ensure that all Kia campaigns are compliant with the OBA Principles going forward. Read the decision.|
|Microsoft Advertising: Microsoft’s ad serving platform, Atlas, was used to deliver ads for the Kia campaign in question. However, Microsoft neither collected nor supplied data for OBA purposes for the Kia campaign; it only provided the ad serving technology. Therefore, Microsoft’s role in the Kia campaign falls outside the OBA Principles’ definition of OBA. Read the decision.|
|Specific Media: The Accountability Program found that Specific Media was serving interest-based ads for a Kia campaign without enhanced notice and choice. Specific Media stated that it typically uses the AdChoices icon, unless instructed to do otherwise, as it was in this case. Specific Media stated that it as a backstop it contractually requires its publisher partners to provide notice on every Web page where data is collected or an OBA ad served and that it believed that this was sufficient to comply with the OBA Principles. The Accountability Program found the practices Specific Media instructed its publisher partners to follow did not fully satisfy the requirements of enhanced notice. Specific Media has agreed to provide enhanced notice on all OBA ads in future by using the AdChoices Icon and/or ensuring that its publisher partners provide enhanced notice that complies with the Transparency Principle.. Read the decision.|
|Rocket Fuel: Rocket Fuel was found to be out of compliance with the Transparency Principle because it was not providing enhanced notice on interest-based ads served as part of a Kia campaign. The company explained that it provides enhanced notice on OBA ads through the AdChoices Icon, but had been requested not to do so in this instance. Rocket Fuel has committed to ensuring the AdChoices Icon is served on all interest-based ads going forward. Rocket Fuel has also undertaken to educate its sales team and clients about the benefits of compliance with the OBA Principles. The company stated that compliance on all OBA ad campaigns is company policy. Read the decision.|
|BlueCava: The Accountability Program decision explained that transparency and choice are not limited to traditional “cookie-based” tracking practices but also cover all technologies in the interest-based advertising space, including device fingerprinting.
|DataXu:DataXu’s website consumer choice mechanism set an opt-out cookie that was rendered non-functional by the absence of a domain attribute. As a result, consumers who exercised choice through the DataXu website when using the Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari browsers were not opted out of data collection and use for OBA purposes. Read the decision.|
|OxaMedia: OxaMedia was unaware of the OBA Principles. As a result, it did not follow a number of these industry best practices. Its opt-out cookie was set to expire one year from the date a consumer completed the opt-out process; it did not provide enhanced notice and choice to the consumer regarding its OBA practices when it served an interest-based ad. Read the decision.|
|FMX’s opt-out was set to expire in less than six months from the date of the request. Upon receipt of the Accountability Program’s inquiry, the company stated that it would quickly change the opt-out cookie’s expiration date to the five-year time frame that is the industry standard. In addition, the opt-out process took three to four minutes when accessed from Internet Explorer. The company took steps to remedy this delay. Read the decision.|
|Martini Media’s opt-out was set to expire less than six months from the date of the request. In response to the Accountability Program’s inquiry, the company stated that it would change the opt-out cookie’s expiration date to conform to the industry standard. Read the decision.|
|PredictAd’s opt-out was set to expire one month from the date of the request. In response to the Accountability Program’s inquiry, the company reported that PredictAd was no longer an active brand providing services to its partners, but would nonetheless change the expiration date of the PredictAd legacy system to meet the industry standard. Read the decision.|
|QuinStreet’s “Opt Out Now” buttons on four tested browsers were either missing, preventing consumers from exercising choice, or appeared as broken images that could potentially confuse consumers. Tests using the Safari browser found the “OPT OUT NOW” button to be clearly visible and the opt-out request successfully processed. In response to the Accountability Program’s inquiry, the company stated that it took immediate steps to correct the problem and ensure their opt-out button was properly displayed and functioning across each of the five browsers. Read the decision.|
|Reedge’s opt-out mechanism was set to expire one year from the date of the request. Upon notification by the Accountability Program, the company extended the duration of the opt-out mechanism to five years, consistent with the industry standard. Read the decision.|
|Veruta’s (MyBuys) opt-out mechanism was inaccessible to consumers through its web site due to a missing link. Upon receipt of the Accountability Program’s inquiry, the company stated that the opt-out link was inadvertently omitted during a software upgrade and that it took immediate steps to correct the problem and provide the required opt-out mechanism. Read the decision.|