By Lou Mastria
The dynamic nature of digital advertising certainly was proven in 2017 – as our Digital Advertising Alliance self-regulatory program marked its eighth year in market.
While we may be a startup in spirit, we’ve achieved mature reach as our program has helped advertising organizations adapt to new technologies, evolving policy concerns, and ever-higher expectations of consumers.
We’re proud of those accomplishments, which were made possible by the support of our founding associations and the participation of so many hundreds of companies and thousands of brands.
In no particular order, here are at least nine ways our program made a positive difference in 2017 and continues to enable innovative and responsible digital advertising practices as we enter 2018.
1. Continued Recognition by Policymakers and Regulators
We seek to educate both policymakers and regulators on the flexibility and effectiveness that self-regulation can bring to responsible data collection for interest-based advertising purposes. In 2017, for the first time ever, we had a sitting U.S. Senator – Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) – speak to our annual DAA Summit, providing words of encouragement and support for our program and its dual goals of extending privacy protections to consumers, while enabling advertising to finance digital and mobile content and services.
Photo: Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) addresses DAA Summit 2017 participants via video.
Early in the year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cited DAA positively in its staff report “Cross-Device Tracking,” stating, “FTC staff commends these self-regulatory efforts to improve transparency and choice in the cross-device tracking space.” And, such efforts have “improved the level of consumer protection in the marketplace.” One report co-author from the FTC, Ryan Mehm, spoke at the DAA Summit as well this year.
FTC Staff Report on Cross-Device Tracking provides supporting comments for DAA’s Cross-Device Guidance and self-regulation.
Acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen also has voiced her support for the DAA program, and has expressed such sentiments since our earliest days as an operational program.
During 2017, we also lent our support to Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), one of our association founders, in a briefing of Republican staff of the U.S. House of Representative Energy and Commerce Committee regarding digital advertising. In addition, we provided comments to the Federal Trade Commission for its Informational Injury Workshop in December. When the DAA is offered as a proof point to lawmakers and regulators, it shows what can be achieved in advertising through effective self-regulation. We are grateful all our association founders continue to tell our story on Capitol Hill and among state legislators, too.
2. Our First-Ever Hill Day – An Opportunity to Inform through Face-to-Face Briefings
When we scheduled our Summit 2017 in the Greater Washington area, it gave us the opportunity to hold our first-ever “Hill Day,” a chance to inform lawmakers and their staffs about the self-regulation program, the YourAdChoices tools for exercising consumer choice (WebChoices and AppChoices), and its independent enforcement by Data & Marketing Association (DMA) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC). Participants from ad tech, publishing, social media and other ad sectors spent a full day making visits to 25 House and Senate offices. U.S. Senator Roy Blount (R-MO) thanked us for the informational briefing, noting how refreshing it is to see self-regulation working for consumer protections.
Photo: Among DAA’s first-ever Hill visit participants in June were Kellyn Bergstrand of PulsePoint, Noga Rosenthal of Epsilon, and Christopher Oswald of Data & Marketing Association.
3. Cross-Device Enforcement Began – with a First Accountability Case
Early in the year, our Accountability Partners DMA and CBBB initiated enforcement for cross-device transparency and control for consumers, according to DAA’s Cross-Device Guidance. The February enactment followed a sustained period of industry education through Webinars, social media and conference speaking. In December, the BBB announced its first cross-device enforcement case decision. As companies become more focused on cross-device strategies for advertising relevance and efficiency, it’s vital that we have kept pace with such innovation – both in how our Principles are applied in market, and – a keystone -- how these Principles are enforced.
4. Enforcement in Action 2.0 – A Resource of Key Takeaways from Dozens of Accountability Cases
In the spring, we published our second edition of Enforcement in Action, with summaries and key takeaways from approximately one dozen new accountability actions of our DMA and BBB/ASRC Accountability Partners. This hard-copy resource is not only useful for counsel, but is written for business and ad ops practitioners too, fully indexed to help brands and their ad partners navigate how to implement DAA Principles. This reporting and sharing of information helps others gain insight toward compliance. We are thankful for DMA’s and BBB’s tireless work. Advertising Age provided one snapshot of just how thorough our Accountability Partners are, while Senny Boone of DMA provides additional perspective.
5. DAA’s Global Footprint Expands to Latin America – ¡Hola, Argentina!
The DAA framework just expanded into its 36th nation – and third continent – with the addition of Argentina as our first jurisdiction in Latin America. Latin America is an important market for DAA Participants, and we’re delighted to see DAA program expansion here. Alianza para la Publicidad Digital de Argentina (APDA) was newly formed in late summer, and at some time in 2018, we expect DAA will be able to extend to U.S. YourAdChoices Icon licensees the ability to license icon use in Argentina, just as we offer similar service currently with the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada. It’s gratifying to see there’s a strong role and room for effective self-regulation in digital advertising – and we’re hopeful more nations and regions will adopt the DAA framework in 2018.
6. Prepping the Next Generation of Marketing Business Leaders
Photo: 10 “nextGen” scholarship winners attended DAA Summit 2017, providing an opportunity to teach the role of effective self-regulation to advertising’s next generation of business leaders.
While the DAA program only has been operational in the U.S. for a little more than eight years, that period welcomed a whole new “generation” in terms of business professionals dealing with data and privacy issues. That’s why the DAA is reaching out and educating newly entering marketing, IT and legal practitioners in our field. This year, during our DAA Summit in June, we welcomed 10 individuals as “nextGen” scholarship recipients, through the generosity of our nextGen sponsor Facebook. Nominated by our association founders, these young persons from diverse backgrounds were able to see the breadth and depth of commitment to industry self-regulation that brings together our community. Self-regulation is rarely taught in school – so it’s incumbent on us to bring the next generation of career entrants into the ethics and corporate responsibility fold early. We were very happy to have these participants at our Summit, and we hope to make this sponsorship an ongoing part of our annual programming. We are also hopeful this initiative increases understanding and reduces friction for your businesses as nextGen students and professionals make their way in digital advertising careers.
7. Prepping the Current Generation for New Marketing Platforms & Applications
Innovations in our field never cease, many financed by advertising. During our DAA Summit 2017, we were able to explore three emerging areas – out-of-home, autonomous vehicles and cross-device marketing – and hear from experts who helped to illuminate the opportunities to incorporate such platforms into the advertising equation. The Outdoor Advertising Association of America has embraced the DAA Principles in its own ethics code, and we heard from the FTC’s Peder Magee, as well as Kelley Blue Book’s Rebecca Lindland and Venable’s Dave Strickland on the rise of driverless personal transport and its potential for relevant messaging and content. Certainly, cross-device customer recognition and marketing is a more established part of our current landscape and it was insightful hearing perspectives from Alphonso, IHG and GroupM.
8. New Look & Feel for Our Choice Tools – WebChoices & AppChoices
There were two driving forces behind our “makeovers” for WebChoices (DAA’s Consumer Choice Page) and AppChoices in 2017: user-friendliness and the rise of cookie-less identifiers. Now when a user visits WebChoices (our new nomenclature for the Consumer Choice Page), there is a visible check for both cookie and non-cookie technology for device identification use – before the opt-out choice is presented. This transparency is intended to inform consumers about such technologies as a means to serve more relevant, interest-based ads. AppChoices now has expanded instructions, and both tools cross-reference each other as well as link to our “new look” YourAdChoices.com consumer education site (English and Spanish). The two tools now have more participants as well: 138 companies on WebChoices, and 45 on AppChoices to date (with even more in the pipeline).
9. Building a Trust Dividend with Consumers through Transparency, Choice & Education
Without customers, there is no business. And without trust, there are no customers. That’s one major motivation for the broad industry-wide participation in DAA. Utilized by hundreds of companies and thousands of brands and served globally more than 1 trillion times every month, the YourAdChoices icon helps provide the transparency and control that consumers expect. That’s why DAA participation is a critical part of the brand safety continuum. During 2017, besides continuing an advertising initiative to support YourAdChoices.com, we secured quality media placements in online consumer publications such as DealCrunch and CardRates.com, while also securing hundreds of other offline and online placements.
Collectively, and through your participation, we are building confidence and trust with nearly 8 in 10 consumers – including preparing the way for future innovation. That’s a profound impact, and one we cannot and must not ever take for granted.
In 2018, DAA offers participants more easy-to-use resources, starting with our revamped business-to-business Web site alongside our fantastic Digital Advertising Alliance team and partners. I’m certain we will again achieve great progress in all these areas, as we continue to create and protect consumer and brand value in an exciting, dynamic – and expanding -- marketplace. Here’s to your success!