Facebook Ads Will Soon Display AdChoices Icon

Exchange to add symbol by end of the quarter

Facebook display ads will soon sport the advertising industry's AdChoices icon, allowing users to opt out of the billions of monthly behaviorally targeted ads that appear on the social network. The icon will begin appearing on ads served via the Facebook Exchange by the end of first quarter.

The advertising industry's AdChoices self-regulatory program was designed to give consumers the choice to opt-out of targeted ads. Trillions of triangular blue icons appear monthly on Internet ads. But Facebook's lack of participation in the program left a gaping hole in a platform used by more than a billion consumers.

Facebook was brought into the program by the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, which enforces the program created by the Digital Advertising Alliance, a coalition of several organizations, including the Association of National Advertisers, the 4As and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The ASRC began working with Facebook last November, soon after Facebook launched its exchange, which made it possible for third parties to target users when they were on Facebook. 

"This is a huge step forward for recognition of the icon because there are so many Facebook users that are interactive with the site," said Genie Barton, vp and director of ASRC's online behavioral advertising accountability program. "We want 100 percent industry compliance. If we have less than that, it's a problem."

Facebook will participate in the program a little differently than others. It will add the AdChoices icon to the "about this ad" link available through the drop down menu, which appears when users click on the gray "x." The network will also replace its current hover text message, "report this ad," with "learn about Facebook ads."

"We wanted to get Facebook up right away, so it was the art of the possible," Barton explained. "They are being very good about collaborating with us."

In addition to participating in the self-regulatory program, Facebook has also agreed to explore ways to bring more transparency and choice to its users about interest-based advertising.