More Than 100 Reasons Why DAA Principles Enforcement Matters

April 5, 2019

The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council undertakes its 100th enforcement action in support of DAA Principles adherence. That’s remarkable for many reasons.

This week marked a milestone in the Digital Advertising Alliance novel self-regulatory program for interest-based advertising (IBA). One of our two independent Accountability Partners – the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) – released its 100th compliance action since it began its enforcement role eight years ago.

Figure 1. ASRC Enforcement Actions related to DAA Principles

DAA Principles Enforcement - ASRC First 100 Cases Overview Graph

Beyond those 100 public actions, our Accountability Partners have also worked behind-the-scenes to provide guidance and advice to hundreds of other publishers, brands, and ad tech companies on how to comply with the DAA Principles.

I’ve often described the work of our enforcement partners – the other one being the Data Marketing & Analytics (DMA) division of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) – as one of the keystones of our program. Why? Because the marketplace monitoring and compliance enforcement performed by ASRC and DMA is completely independent of the Digital Advertising Alliance. Both organizations maintain arms-length relationships with the DAA to ensure that consumers, businesses, and government agencies can be confident in the privacy of complaints made to them, the objectivity of investigations they conduct, and the credibility of decisions they render.

That independent enforcement approach was novel when we launched it, but it has quickly become a best-practice.

Thanks in part to our independent enforcement mechanism, the DAA’s program has been recognized by government agencies for its effectiveness, with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) noting that the DAA’s “work has improved the level of consumer protection in the marketplace.”

A new report released by the ARSC highlights the depth and range of its enforcement actions:

  • The issues tackled in those enforcement cases span the digital advertising ecosystem, from first parties to third parties using data, cross-device data collection, location-based data and apps, video ads, transparency and notice, even sensitive data categories such as children-related data.
  • The entities involved include nearly every participant in the supply chain, from agencies and their brand clients to ad tech companies, publishers, and exchanges.
  • The policies enforced have kept pace with the rapidly changing technology and business models in our industry, from multi-site data to mobile, cross-device, video, and soon, political advertising.
  • The business entities who are the focus of enforcement actions do not need to be DAA program participants. The ASRC and DMA have the jurisdiction to act whenever any company violates the DAA Principles, regardless of DAA affiliation, and they do so regularly. This cross-industry enforcement is another unique element of the DAA’s approach to self-regulation.
  • This process has engaged companies both large and small, consumer-facing and behind-the-scenes. By working with our Accountability Partners to correct oversights, companies raise the bar for the industry and ensure a higher level of compliance by their peers. 
  • Our Accountability Partners respond to complaints as well as launching their own investigations. ASRC and DMA provide online mechanisms to allow consumers and businesses to register concerns for further inquiry. ASRC also deploys monitoring systems that enable its team to follow up and reach out to companies which may or may not be compliant.
  • The entirety of the process is instructive – rather than punitive – in the far majority of cases deliberated. Ninety-eight percent of ASRC’s work results in full cooperation, with corrective actions taken by the company that mitigate the need for regulatory referral.

Equally important, the enforcement program also has regulatory punch when needed. In three cases, DMA and ASRC referred non-cooperative companies to federal government agencies for consideration for regulatory action. In those cases, government enforcement served as a vital backstop for consumer protection. Collectively, these independent enforcement efforts have helped to describe our program as self-regulation “with teeth.”

‘Do Call Us, Before We Call You’

In addition, our Accountability Partners have taken hundreds of queries about responsible data collection and use practices directly from companies in the field.  The enforcers will respond to any such query in a confidential manner.

We will continue to learn – and thrive, and grow – in ASRC’s and DMA’s vital work. Use these resources to help keep your company and its IBA supply chain on the right side of our Principles:

From time to time, DAA will also work with our Accountability Partners in conference, workshop and Webinar programming. To date, hundreds of industry outreach and education events have taken place. 

At a high level, the 100-case milestone reinforces the effectiveness and value of the DAA’s unique self-regulatory approach. After ten years in the marketplace, our efforts are driving positive results for consumers and businesses alike, thanks to your involvement and support. And, they are also proving the worth of novel industry-led approaches to bring integrity and responsibility to a dynamic marketplace. Onward…

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