Online ad rules launched in Europe

15 April 2011

BRUSSELS: Leading European advertisers have signed up to a new best practice framework for internet advertising, as regulators around the world prepare tougher online privacy rules.

IAB Europe's new document, with signatories including Yahoo, the BBC, Microsoft and Orange, sets out a series of guidelines to make the collection and use of consumer data more transparent.

The initiative also promotes a new icon, designed to appear next to display ads, which, when clicked, provides users with extra information about how to manage their privacy preferences.

This icon, which is already being trialled in the UK, was originally developed by Yahoo and was discussed at the 2011 ISBA Conference by Justin Weiss, the firm's international privacy director.

Another part of IAB Europe's strategy is a consumer-facing website,, which provides users with more information on the topic.

Online behavioural advertising - which involves advertisers and publishers collecting anonymised data from consumers' browsing habits, and then using this information to serve targeted ads - remains a controversial subject.

The European Union's ePrivacy directive, to be implemented by member states' governments in the summer, aims to give web users more control over how their data is tracked and used by corporations.

US senators are also preparing a "consumer bill of rights" that makes similar recommendations to lawmakers.

Privacy campaigners have advocated much tougher laws for online tracking, such as forcing sites to serve automatic pop-ups alerting users whenever a tracking cookie is about to be dropped onto their computer.

But marketers see industry self-regulation, of the kind advocated by the IAB, as preferable to such laws.

Guy Phillipson, chief executive of IAB UK and chair of IAB Europe said: "New online advertising techniques require the trust of consumers. The introduction of an icon across Europe will inform consumers about behavioural advertising and provide them with the tools to manage their preferences.

"The new system will be backed up by a combination of a new compliance and enforcement mechanism as well as the tried and tested approach for advertising self-regulation."

Data sourced from IAB Europe; additional content by Warc staff