DAA, Interest-Based Advertising Cited in Federal Trade Commission Filing with National Telecommunications & Information Administration

November 16, 2018

DAA survey research regarding consumer value of Internet content access -- and importance of data-driven advertising -- are acknowledged in agency comments.

A recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filing to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) cited both the Digital Advertising Alliance’s research and demonstrated reasonableness of interest-based advertising (the filing uses the term online behavioral advertising, or OBA) in its comments to the NTIA.

[See bold italics in the following excerpts (bold italics inserted for emphasis.)]

DAA & OBA References:

DAA Survey:

In a section of the FTC’s comments about consumer control, they point to DAA research showing that 92 percent of consumers agreed that free content is important to the value of the Internet. This is validation of both the value exchange argument we make, as well as validation of the graduated privacy permission approach that DAA's Principles embody. The FTC concludes in its comment that that often-discussed opt-in mandates for digital advertising threatens ad funding of this valued content.

"The FTC has long encouraged a balanced approach to control. Giving consumers the ability to exercise meaningful control over the collection and use of data about them is beneficial in some cases. However, certain controls can be costly to implement and may have unintended consequences. For example, if consumers were opted out of online advertisements by default (with the choice of opting in), the likely result would include the loss of advertising-funded online content.(Footnote 79)

79 | Interactive Survey of U.S. Adults, DIGITAL ADVERTISING ALLIANCE, Apr. 2013, http://www.aboutads.info/resource/image/Poll/Zogby_DAA_Poll.pdf (reporting that 92% of respondents agreed that free content is important to the value of the Internet)." DAA Note: Our blog here describes the survey findings in more detail.

Innovative, In-time Notices (OBA):

In a paragraph in which the FTC discusses that companies should consider innovative ways to provide notice as well as considering context for notice, they point to one of DAA's two Approved Providers, TrustArc, which helps companies place AdChoices icons (and associated notices) on ads. (Our other Approved Provider is Evidon by Crownpeak.) The FTC states:

"When offering choice, companies should consider the context in which the consumer actually makes the choice and design the choice mechanism to fit that context. For example, the FTC staff’s report on the Internet of Things cites to innovative ways in which companies are offering these just-in-time choices, including through set-up wizards for devices, privacy “dashboards” or “command centers” that consumers can revisit at any time, or video or in-store tutorials that take place at the point of sale. Some websites and apps have adopted similar mechanisms for providing just-in-time choices about, for example, online behavioral advertising.(85)

85 | See, e.g., What Control Do I Have?, TRUSTARC, https://www.trustarc.com/consumer-privacy/aboutoba/#&panel1-2 (last visited Nov. 5, 2018)."


In a section in which the FTC discusses its guiding principles in privacy, the Commission makes a point of mentioning the importance of data-driven advertising. In fact, the FTC filing goes further and includes an example of a small start-up using relevant advertising to build a business. 

"Privacy standards that give short shrift to the benefits of data-driven practices may negatively affect innovation and competition. Moreover, regulation can unreasonably impede market entry or expansion by existing companies; the benefits of privacy regulation should be weighed against these potential costs to competition. (61)

61 | Consider, for example, a small outdoor equipment company trying to expand its customer base. Under current law, the company can use targeted ads to reach consumers who have browsed online for hiking equipment or national park passes. Without the ability to serve these data-driven ads, it would be difficult for the company to insert itself into a market dominated by large, well-entrenched players. The resulting lack of competition could hurt consumers, giving them fewer and more expensive choices."

Having the FTC amplify some of these important considerations in the context of a heightened privacy policy debate recognizes practical, pragmatic and measured steps that are vital for effective outcomes – ones that protect both consumers and innovation.

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