Behavioral Marketers Will Be Responsible For Data Disclosures

Frank Gertsenberger, VP of Product Marketing for Audience Science wrapped up day one with an excellent update on privacy concerns and expected changes due to FTC and congressional work on behavioral advertising policy. 

The concern is that even though data is being collected anonymously, when enough anonymous data points are collected, is an individual still anonymous?

Four entities are running concurrently to tackle this challenge:

  1. The FTC began investigating data practices about two years ago and determined that the risk with behavioral marketing is that consumers are not aware of what data is being collected; current privacy policies are insufficient at explaining how consumer data is employed with behavioral marketing.
  2. Congress – A subcommittee was convened last year to quantify the value of behavioral marketing in order to determine its value in the online economy.  Through studies supported by the NAI (the network advertising initiative), Congress now understands this and is outlining a policy outlining what the baseline protections should be for consumers.
  3. NAI– A membership organization which now represents more than 80% of all online ad spend, and created studies focused on answering Congress' need to value behavioral marketing.  Also helps audit member sites to aid compliance efforts.
  4. The Associations – This is a collection of online advertising associations like the DMA (direct marketing association), the IAB (interactive advertising bureau) and the ANA (association of national advertisers).  This group is taking a pass at developing requirements for providing enhanced notice to consumers.

What this means for advertisers and publishers:

Beginning next year, behavioral ads will all show a small icon on or adjacent to the ad (AudienceScience called this an "ad slug") which consumers can click on for further information about behavioral marketing, the data collected to enable it and how to opt out if desired.  Implementing this ad slug is the responsibility of the buyer.

Also appearing next year, enhanced consumer data disclosures which publishers will feature (through a link outside of their privacy policies) to indicate how data is collected and used.

No timeframe has been mandated for either of these requirements, but all signs indicate that these will be mandatory disclosures and broadly implemented by early 2011.

What are your thoughts on the implications of privacy legislation on your own marketing efforts?  Have you already begun some of the efforts outlined above to better disclose how you use consumer data?  Let me know what you think about these expected signifiers of data-driven targeting.