Archive for December, 2010

Oba Oba – live at the Beaulieu!

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Not long ago I discovered why my Chairman always smiled broadly when I recounted the latest twists and turns of our work on online behavioural advertising. Alas it was nothing to do with my efforts in self-regulation but his love of dancing! Oba Oba is the call to the dance floor as all aficionados of the Samba will know! Even though there were no “whisks” or “copas” our line up was pretty sparkling at the 16 December Roundtable.

Seriously, this was the media and advertising industry’s first public chance to showcase our package of self-regulation for online behavioural advertising to the European Commission, consumer and privacy groups as well as to many companies from all overEurope. After 18 months of collaboration between portals and publishers, broadcasters, advertisers, agencies, direct marketers, ISPs, mobile operators, search engines, third-party ad networks and more, together with the advertising self-regulatory organisations across the EU, we pulled together a Best Practice recommendation for the self-regulation of online behavioural advertising.

Designed to provide a comprehensive industry-wide standard, rooted within the established advertising self-regulatory structure of accountability, compliance and consumer redress, the package provides consumers with

  • Easy to understand and easy to use consumer tools to increase transparency dramatically and exercise choice including an EU-wide rollout of an icon to label oba and a centralised website available in all EU languages
  • Incentives and sanctions to drive compliance
  • One stop shop for consumer feedback and complaints handling &
  • Robust and effective self-regulatory enforcement mechanisms and sanctions.

And our offer went down rather well.  We received some clear political support from the Commission for our approach and we left with some positive and achievable goals to pursue over the next 3 months to improve our package.

The Roundtable will re-convene in March and meanwhile we are deeply committed to working with consumers to make significant improvements to the information on the industry’s website and improve the clarity of the language about how and why data is collected for the purposes of providing consumers with interest-based advertising.  We’re also keen to get feedback on the icon itself and especially what message should sit alongside the icon as a link to the consumer controls. If you are interested, watch out early next year for when the European Advertising Standards Alliance website will go live with a feedback page.

Angela Mills Wade

Executive Director at European Publishers Council

Easy to find Icons and Opt-outs on both sides of the Pond

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

At Yahoo! we have always worked hard to make our privacy controls easy to find and easy to use. We were pleased to read Joseph Tartakoff’s recent experiment testing how difficult it is to opt-out from interest-based advertising online. His conclusion: from Yahoo!, it’s really pretty darn easy. It was rewarding to read that Tartakoff used Yahoo! as his starting point since 600 million users worldwide visit our pages regularly every month and many of them make the Yahoo! the first page on the Internet they see everyday. It was even more rewarding that the writer easily found multiple cues that gave him information and quickly and easily took him to Yahoo!’s opt-out page and Ad Interest Manager. This doesn’t happen by accident. It’s privacy by design. At Yahoo! this isn’t a platitude – it’s how we build our products and how we think about privacy everyday.

Also applauded was Network Advertising Initiative’s one-stop shop for opting out. Yahoo! is a member of the group which represents dozens of ad networks. The NAI Consumer Opt-Out and the cross-industry Advertising Option Icon Initiative have been the result of continued efforts here in the U.S. among industry leaders, marketing associations, regulators, and others to give consumers a better understanding and greater control over customized online ads. Over 5,000 companies are participating in a self-regulatory process here in the US. This kind of widespread participation is essential to success but coordinating this many companies can be a challenge. We’ve heard that we need to move faster and we are seeing evidence that our efforts are picking up steam.

We wanted to further tip the hat to our industry peers in the UK and EU where the icon-based approach is also finding favor and where centralized choices are being offered. The IAB UK-hosted site,, has adopted the model of cross-industry collaboration to give consumers a centralized place to find information about interest-based advertising, opt-out choices, or even how make a complaint about misleading or problematic ads.

As 2010 comes to a close, it’s clear that we’ve done a lot to move the ball forward in advancing greater transparency and choice at Yahoo! but we have a lot left to deliver on as an industry. In 2011, we are committed to building on this progress to make icons and centralized choices commonplace for consumers both in the US, EU and beyond.

chief trust officer

Yahoo! Supports the Department of Commerce’s Approach to Providing Greater Privacy for Consumers

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Today, the Department of Commerce released their Green Paper outlining an approach aimed at providing consumers with greater privacy protections, including recommendations to establish a privacy framework incorporating multi-stakeholder participation, and a call to establish a “Privacy Policy Office” within the Department to drive focus on this complex issue. Yahoo! supports these important steps and is very encouraged by the report.

As leaders on privacy who have long engaged global stakeholders, we support the DoC’s commitment to advance the conversation with government, civil society, business and consumers around the world to ensure progress with interoperability and consistency to user experiences. Each of these constituencies has an important role to play in ensuring development of an effective and modern privacy protection framework which supports growth and innovation. The DoC recognizes that creating a privacy model that respects the global nature of the Internet and data flows is critical for the future. The Obama Administration’s commitment to privacy and its understanding of the special role of data and privacy in the digital economy, combined with the FTC’s long history on this issue, will provide strong support to the framework released today and the measurable results it seeks to attain.

Yahoo! has been a leader in privacy and trust with our online products and services for over 15 years. We look forward to continuing to develop innovative solutions that protect privacy as we develop the next generation of industry-leading, free digital products and services.

Anne Toth

Yahoo!’s Chief Trust Officer

Leading the way on transparency

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Yahoo! launched our Ad Interest Manager almost exactly a year ago.  This tool lets you opt out of interest-based advertising that Yahoo! delivers to you with one simple click but also lets you see the categories of interests we have associated with your browser. From Ad Interest Manager you can edit interest categories one by one, or easily opt out of all.

This level of transparency and control is designed to empower you with greater access than ever before to information you can use to make informed decisions about how your data is used.  Yahoo! supports industry efforts to adopt a single icon, served with all ads, to allow consumers to easily access our Ad Interest Manager and opt-out choices.  If you look at many of the ad placements on Yahoo! today you’ll already see icons that allow you to easily access your opt-out choices.  We’re in the process of transitioning to the industry icon in the coming weeks so you’ll see a consistent icon wherever interest-based ads are served. This icon has been embraced by TRUSTe, Better Advertising and a number of leading trade associations like the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers and the Direct Marketing Association.

We applaud the efforts led by for-profit organizations like TRUSTe and Better Advertising to bring all companies into the fold and, in particular, companies that do data mining and analysis that may not have a direct consumer presence or brand.  The NAI as an industry association has also done a tremendous job of bringing new members to their ranks to ensure that a standard privacy framework exists to ensure that consumers have meaningful choice about whether they receive interest-based ads or not. The more companies that participate in these programs, the better off consumers will be.

Our collective challenge going forward is to ensure cooperation and collaboration across these various efforts so that consumers will know what to expect and how to participate in a way that’s simple and consistent. We are committed to that goal.

Anne Toth

Chief Trust Officer