With the launch of "Power I," does this mean you've won the competition to provide a self-regulation tool for the ad industry as it relates to a consumer's online privacy? If not, when is a decision coming in your estimation?
As far as we know, a decision will be made soon. We have not received any official notification that we or any other company has been selected by the Coalition.
What will be the impact of better solutions around helping the consumer control their data such as Power I? Will brand dollars finally come online?
We know from the Ponemon Institute's study that privacy concerns are keeping at least $600 million of spending on interest-based advertising on the sidelines, and perhaps many times more than that. While brand dollars are coming online already, this study reinforces our firm belief that that more transparency will increase the confidence that brand advertisers have in the online medium. I think AT&T's Steve Governale said it well: "'If people start to opt out it makes our targeting less effective and it becomes more challenging to sell to people...But, long-term, transparency can only do us good."
How did you come up with the name Power I?
The impetus behind the icon came from the Coalition. WPP, a member of the task force, offered to design an icon for the Coalition, an offer the Coalition accepted. It's important that the industry understand the role played by the Coalition, as they and the associations have been the primary interface with the Federal Trade Commission and Congress. So, the Coalition's oversight of the icon, the principles, and the accountability program itself is part of this larger effort.
Why do you think agencies are so willing to adopt Power I?
Creating a single icon just makes sense for the whole online ecosystem. If we deploy it correctly and consistently, consumers can gain a much clearer understanding of how data is collected and used to target ads. The IAB and NAI issued a joint specification for how companies can use the Icon correctly and display the data that needs to go behind it. Better Advertising is the first company to offer a service that
deploys the Power I easily across any site, network, exchange or agency that is using a commercial ad server. Behind it comes a lot of valuable reporting, and we have proposed that the Coalition recognize this service as evidence of compliance with the Principles. Together, that's a strong value proposition for agencies.
What has surprised you about the self-regulation proposal process in which Better Advertising has been involved?
I'm not sure I would say that I'm surprised, but I am very encouraged and maybe even gratified by the sort of support we've enjoyed by the leading agencies and the leadership at these agencies. More people understand the two sided coin that is privacy to consumers and brand protection to marketers than you would have thought.
Will the new system enable consumers to block ads - or block ads by advertiser? Do you see this ever needing to become a feature?
Better Advertising's Assurance Platform doesn't enable ad blocking. There are a number of services that do enable ad blocking, such as AdBlock Plus and Ghostery (which Better Advertising owns). The requirement is that consumers can opt out of targeting, but not out of getting ads. I think that the ability to manage ones online profile and to choose which individual advertisers you hear from will be something that the industry comes to embrace in the future. The current system is just the start of bringing better transparency to consumers.
By John Ebbert