By Lou Mastria
The following contributed op-ed authored by DAA Executive Director Lou Mastria appeared on MediaPost on May 11, 2018, in response to a Media Daily News story earlier this month: "Study Finds Few Americans Choose Ad Choices, Know It Exists"
With apologies to many of my former colleagues in journalism, a headline in last week’s Media Daily News brought to mind Adlai Stevenson's definition of an editor as "one who separates the wheat from the chaff, then prints the chaff."
The survey featured in the article showed strong public awareness and adoption of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) AdChoices program, a proverbial bumper crop of positive data, yet the headline — "Study Finds Few Americans Choose Ad Choices, Know It Exists" — was mostly chaff.
(AdChoices gives consumers information about and control over interest-based advertising.)
So why do I think the story missed the mark? Let's dive into the details:
- The survey, conducted by Research Intelligencer, asked 400 consumers about their awareness of six tools to control their digital ad experience, including offerings from the DAA, Google, Apple, and others.
- Of the six options, the DAA's AdChoices tool was the second-most-recognized tool, behind only Google, with more than one in three users (33.8 oercent) saying they were aware of AdChoices.
- Not only were consumers broadly aware of the DAA program, one in five (20 percent) said they had tried out the AdChoices tool at some point.
Rather than showing a minimal impact, these results validate the success and growth trajectory of the AdChoices program. As the article notes, the DAA is less than eight years old, yet in that short time, this small nonprofit has built a choice tool whose awareness ranks second only to one of the world's most powerful and valuable brands — and ahead of other companies and services with hundreds of millions of active users.
As positive as the results were for the program, they would likely have been even stronger had the survey included an image of the easily-recognizable AdChoices icon, which is now served more than a trillion times a month globally. Instead, the question appears to have only included the name of the program, which may not be as familiar to users without the visual cue.
By comparison, in research conducted by the DAA in August 2016 that included an image of the of the AdChoices icon, more than three in five respondents (61 percent) recognized it at least a little, and half (50 percent) said they recognized it a lot or somewhat.
In short, the Research Intelligencer survey showed that AdChoices is on the right track, having quickly grown into one of the nation’s two best-known choice tools, with widespread awareness and broad adoption among consumers.
That’s a weighty (and wheat-y) win for effective self-regulation, and it has been driven by the collaborative efforts of policymakers and industry to educate consumers about our program. The DAA looks forward to continuing to work together to give consumers information and control over their interest-based advertising experience.