Who: European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA), European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA)
When: 27 January 2014
Law stated as at: 29 January 2014
The self-regulation of Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) has made big steps on the European stage during the last year.
The self-regulatory organisation European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA) has now published its annual activity report for 2013 and drew conclusions on the organisation’s OBA efforts during the past year. The report shows good progress.
The EDAA is central to the operation of the “EU Industry Framework” for self-regulating third party OBA which operates in conjunction with “Best Practice Recommendations” promulgated by the European Advertising Standards Alliance (“the Principles”). The system uses the “advertising option icon” to signify that online ads have arrived on a screen courtesy of OBA.
The icon links to information about how OBA works and opportunities to opt out of further tracking by chosen networks.
All third party network operators who sign up to the Framework must use the icon and this can only be done by taking a licence to do so from the EDAA and paying the appropriate licence fee.
EU Framework at the heart of UK OBA self-regulation
In the UK, the system is at the heart of CAP Code provisions governing third party OBA and enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority.
One of the key achievements of the EDAA in 2013 was the launch of their EDAA Trust Seal in June. The seal is a logo approved by the EDAA which can only be used by companies that have passed through a specially designed compliance review. The review includes 30 days of continuous compliance monitoring and is performed by EDAA-approved certification providers. These providers are responsible for independently assessing whether companies meet the requirements of the Principles as well as for monitoring companies after they have been awarded with the seal.
The EDAA approved certification providers currently include TRUSTe, BPA Worldwide and ePrivacyconsult.
Another interesting development last year was the establishment of a working group of European self-regulatory organisations by the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) in late October 2013.
At a meeting in Paris members of EASA agreed to constitute a working group of all national SROs to ensure consistent interpretation of the Principles across European SROs.
Why this matters:
Because the Principles and the EU Framework fall some way short of ensuring full compliance with EU laws governing behavioural tracking using cookies and similar technology, demonstrating awareness and proving compliance are two of the most important factors to the EU Framework’s potential for allaying possible concerns about OBA. The trust seal is the latest of EDAA’s various actions to increase visibility of compliance to end users and to build trust in the responsible use of OBA technologies.
EDAA has managed to involve experienced certification providers such as TRUSTe in the compliance review process and has already awarded well known and popular OBA players with the EDAA trust seal. So the seal has already proven to be well recognised by the market and could be a considerable feature for many advertisers’ OBA strategy.
EASA’s newly established working group could have significant impact on the interpretation of self-regulation rules. It is not only a symbol for the increasingly important international cooperation of SROs. In a long term it could lead to a significant consolidation of international self-regulatory rules. So it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Credible enforcement across the EU would be welcome
Also to be monitored is progress in other European countries in setting up credible means of enforcement of the Principles along the lines of the UK system inaugurated in February 2013 by the Committee of Advertising Practice and enforced by the ASA. Some reported cases in which strict enforcement action has been taken against breaches of the Principles would also be welcome.