Web Privacy Self-Regulation Accelerates

Hoping to ward off government regulation, the online advertising industry’s self-regulatory privacy program is picking up steam.

Publicis’ digital arm VivaKi, the nation’s largest digital buyer, has joined GroupM in bringing its clients into compliance with the online privacy program launched in October by the Digital Advertising Alliance. Combined, the two holding companies and their agencies represent 40 percent of all online advertising spending.

To bring ad clients into compliance, VivaKi and GroupM chose the Better Advertising Project as the preferred provider of compliance services. The first company designated by the DAA as an approved provider of compliance services, the Better Advertising Project also announced it has rebranded as Evidon.

“We need to get ahead of [the government] and we need to make sure it gets done the right way as data-driven marketing has become more and more important,” said Sean Kegelman, svp of partnerships and ventures for VivaKi.

Since launching its pilot services in July with VivaKi and GroupM, more than 10 billion ad impressions served by Evidon have been compliant with the program. (It uses an icon on ads that lets viewers opt-out in a couple of clicks.) Evidon is currently in production with 20 of the 100 companies that have licensed the icon from the DAA, including advertisers such as AT&T, Verizon, Procter & Gamble, Bank of America, Disney, American Express and Chrysler.

“By the end of the year, I expect we will be up to hundreds of billions of impressions,” said Scott Meyer, CEO of Evidon.

In December, the Federal Trade Commission’s report accused the industry of not moving fast enough. The Commerce Department echoed that sentiment with its report, and Congress held another hearing. DAA has encouraged all its seven member organizations to be compliant with the self-regulatory program by the end of first quarter. The Direct Marketing Association set a Jan. 1 deadline.

“What the Federal Trade Commission wants to see is icons on the ads and compliance data that shows how consumers are interacting with it,” said Meyer. “If we don’t do this, there is a greater risk of the FTC or Congress taking a much harder line regulating behavioral targeting. There’s no reason to let that happen.

In addition to Evidon, DoubleVerify, a company that provides online media verification services, was recently designated by the DAA as an approved provider of compliance services. “We have a long list of clients waiting to launch in the next few weeks,” said Oren Netzer, CEO of DoubleVerify.

The seven members of the DAA are: American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Direct Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Network Advertising Initiative and the Better Business Bureau.