Thursday, July 2, 2009

Self-regulatory principles for behavioral advertising



As our Deputy General Counsel Nicole Wong mentioned in her congressional testimony a few weeks ago, we've been a part of a broad effort over the past several months to develop a set of self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising. In fact, we were one of the first companies to be involved in this discussion.

After a lot of discussion and hard work among a diverse group of companies and associations, those principles were released today, and I think the end result will be even more transparency and choice for Internet users about how their information is used.

When we launched our own interest-based advertising product in March, we worked hard to include several innovative features to give users more control and information -- including ads labeled "Ads by Google," a tool called the Ads Preferences Manager (which lets users view, add, and remove the categories that are used to show them interest-based ads), and the choice to opt out of interest-based ads altogether.

One of the key strengths of the principles is the fact that they apply to a broad range of companies participating in online advertising -- advertisers, publishers, and ad networks. Of course, for any self-regulatory effort to be effective, there has to be some kind of enforcement process. Between now and early 2010 -- when the principles are expected to be implemented -- the Better Business Bureau and Direct Marketing Association, two of the groups involved, will work to set up that process to make sure it has real teeth.

By applying technology in new ways -- like a strong opt-out mechanism, and tools like the Ads Preferences Manager -- we can help ensure that Internet users are active participants in their online experience by providing them with more information and more control.

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