By Lou Mastria
From time to time, we are called upon to offer information about how the DAA self-regulatory process works, along with details about the DAA Principles and program, their scope, and how they are enforced, as well as other points. In the past, we have provided such information in Congressional hearings, Federal Trade Commission proceedings, and worldwide technology standard forums, among other public proceedings.
This past week, we had the opportunity to provide comments to a “new” stakeholder in interest-based advertising (IBA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with regard to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.”
We used the occasion of the FCC’s NPRM to inform and to educate the regulatory body about the successful implementation and adoption of an independently enforced, consumer-focused self-regulatory program unlike anything which has existed before. In our comments to the FCC – posted here – we articulated the flexibility of our self-regulation program -- well into its fifth year of marketplace implementation. We described the establishment of DAA Principles in 2009, its expansion to Multi-Site Data Collection in 2011, Mobile Guidance in 2013 – among them use of Precise Location Data and Personal Directory Data for marketing, and Cross-Device Guidance in 2015. We reported how we are technology agnostic in our implementation and enforcement. And – equally important – we indicated how our accountability partners, Council of Better Business Bureau’s Advertising Self-Regulatory Council and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) monitor the marketplace and respond to complaints about IBA to ensure our “privacy rules of the road” are followed by the digital advertising ecosystem on desktop, in mobile web, and in apps. Collectively, these serve to bolster consumer confidence while allowing advertising innovation to happen.
We also used this opportunity to educate on current research and marketplace realities. Such is the case with FCC:
“The DAA’s approach to enforcement strikes the right balance for consumers who wish to preserve the innovation and dynamism of the Internet economy while also ensuring meaningful accountability for all industry participants,” the DAA said. “Subjecting data flows and the Internet ecosystem generally to government enforcement would risk losing the benefits that consumers seek and enjoy from the ad-supported Internet.”
In our comments, we shared primary consumer research, commissioned recently by DAA, which highlights the importance of preserving the ad-funded Internet:
“A recent Zogby poll commissioned by DAA found that consumers prefer an ad-supported Internet over one that would require paying for content. Moreover, 75% of consumers reported that they would reduce their Internet use ‘a great deal’ if they had to pay for content. The opt-in regime proposed by the FCC would reduce ad value and undermine the ad-supported Internet, thus frustrating further broadband adoption and investment in this medium.”
While the outcome of the FCC’s current proposal remains uncertain – we are hopeful that the lessons learned from successful self-regulation help preserve the U.S. data-driven economy, and all the insights and strategy used by marketers from such data to serve consumers, nearly 80% of whom have found digital advertising useful in the past year when doing research on new products and services. And, while we wrote to the FCC to inform their thinking, we cannot overestimate how much self-regulated digital advertising is informing consumers – to their benefit.