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Educating Consumers About Online Behavioural Advertising
Image Credit  Loz Pycock Creative Commons license

Educating Consumers About Online Behavioural Advertising

Transparency is the main area of focus for the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA), a cross-industry self-regulatory initiative set up to help web users.

Developed by various European bodies, the EDAA’s purpose is to give consumers back some control when it comes to online behavioural advertising. Companies benefit by from having a more educated consumer on their web properties.

Consumers can use a site called Your Online Choices to view a list of advertising technology solutions. From here it is possible for them to disable any that they would prefer not to have running in the background.

We spoke to Nick Stringer, chairman of the EDAA and director of regulatory affairs at IAB UK, about how he thought the initiative and its websites have fared.

What Are Some of the EDAA's Biggest Accomplishments Since its Launch in 2009?

Nick Stringer: The EDAA only launched in October 2012. Its role is to administer the EU self-regulatory initiative for behavioural advertising. For example: in licensing the use of the icon in ads and on web pages.

Advertising and media groups launched the EU self-regulatory initiative itself in 2009. Its goal is to enhance transparency and consumer control in targeted advertising. The initiative has the support of the European Commission and also many national governments (including the UK’s). The initiative is backed by all sides of the industry and has nearly 200 ad tech and publisher businesses across Europe specifically committed.
Since 2009:

The EDAA has been established to administer the initiative, with its structure reflecting the diverse nature of the advertising industry. It is currently chaired by Nick Stringer, Director of Regulatory Affairs at IAB UK.
The icon has been rolled across all EU and EEA markets – including via approved icon providers, Evidon and TRUSTe.

  • A new pan-European website (with opt out page) – - has been expanded and strengthened to cover 29 countries and 24 different EU languages;
  • A robust but consistent compliance system has been built, and many local and independent self-regulatory bodies, such as the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), have been empowered to handle and, where appropriate, deal with consumer complaints in a consistent pan-European way.
  • Consumer campaigns have kicked off in the UK, Ireland and Germany to promote awareness of the icon. More markets will follow in 2014.
  • Discussions are underway to adapt the initiative for the mobile environment, to ensure a consistent user experience across all connected devices.
  • There is ongoing engagement with policy-makers, such as the European Commission and the UK Government, and the DAA in the US.

How Extensive is the EDAA now? Does it Cover Most of Europe?

NS: The EU self-regulatory programme (which the EDAA administers) covers all EU and EEA markets. It joins up with other similar initiatives, such as in the US and Canada, to ensure consistency for both consumers and businesses.

Do you Feel That Consumers are More Educated About Behavourioual Ads Now Than When You First Started?

NS: Yes, but there is still a way to go. Traffic to the website (in particular the UK version), which is linked from the icon, suggests people are interested in knowing more and in doing so they are happy with targeted advertising, particularly as it helps fund the content and services they enjoy. The campaign to raise awareness of the icon will continue to help this.

How Did You Sell the Benefits of the 'Your Ad Choices' Page to Ad Companies?

The EU self-regulatory initiative is a ‘must’ for the advertising industry. That said, the EDAA and others (such as local IABs) continue to make ad tech and publisher businesses aware of how they should get involved and what they need to do. There is also a need for brands and agencies to understand how they can help to make their third party partners comply.

Businesses needing to know more should visit the EDAA’s FAQs

If You Could Improve Anything Related to EDAA and Your Online Choices, What Would it be?

NS: At a top level, legislators (and regulators) across Europe should work with business to deliver better transparency and control, rather than try to frame regulation that is impractical to comply with and difficult to enforce. Any formal regulation should seek to incentivise businesses to build privacy into product cycles.

There is also a need for a better understanding in all markets on why it is important to be involved in the self-regulatory initiative: to enhance trust by giving consumers greater transparency and control. This is a priority for the EDAA.

Simon Holland

Simon Holland

Simon is the news and research reporter at Existem. Previously a technology journalist, he now spends his time investigating both future and developing trends in performance marketing whilst producing editorial content for

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