Turn off behavioural advertising: It’s your choice

Major online companies launch new website that gives web users the choice about the extent to which their online behaviour is categorised for marketing purposes.

The last few years has seen great strides in the sophistication of online advertising. Advertisers can target messages based on a user’s on-site behaviour. The use of cookies has enabled data to be shared between websites to develop more meaningful view of the consumer, enabling carefully targeted advertising that is relevant to the customer and more cost-effective for the advertiser. Some web users are understandably concerned though, that this comes at the expense of privacy.

Now, for the first time, Australians can turn off behavioural advertising used on the websites of most of the country’s major online advertisers. It’s part of a new website - www.youronlinechoices.com.au - that aims to educate consumers about online behavioural advertising and online privacy.

The initiative is supported by major online advertising companies and industry associations, including Adconion Media Group, Fairfax Digital, Google, Microsoft, News Digital Media, NineMSN, realestate.com.au, Sensis Digital Media, Network Ten Digital, Yahoo!7, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA), the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), the Communications Council, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Internet Industry Association (IIA) and the Media Federation of Australia (MFA).

“Now the user has control” says Paul Fisher, spokesperson for the Australian Digital Advertising Alliance (ADAA), a new representative body convened by the online advertising industry to allay public concerns about how the industry collects and uses behavioural data.

“This new site is not just about telling people how to turn behavioural advertising off” Fisher explains. “We also want to educate people about the benefits behavioural advertising can provide.

“Most people, once they realise that their anonymity is retained or if personal information is combined with OBA data that the protections of the Privacy Act apply, are more than happy to support responsible use of behavioural data. Online advertising is here to stay – and wouldn’t you rather see advertisements relevant to you rather than being bombarded with the sometimes wasteful and irrelevant scatter gun approach we see in traditional media?”

To ensure the industry follows worldwide best practice, the ADAA has developed Australia’s first self-regulatory best practice guidelines: The Australian Best Practice Guidelines for Third Party Online Behavioural Advertising*.

“This is an emerging technology that many consumers don’t fully understand. It is important that the industry engages with the community and conducts itself in a manner which builds trust and confidence” says Paul Fisher. Key steps for this are ensuring people are aware that transparency, openness, privacy and choice are key to how the industry operates.”**

Paul Fisher says these initiatives are vital for the industry: “Online is an attractive medium for advertisers because of its ability to precisely target messages at a receptive audience. As an industry we need to ensure that such targeting doesn’t come at the cost of trust and support from the online community.”


*The seven self-regulatory principles of the guideline and more information about ADAA can be read in full at www.youronlinechoices.com.au

** A six month implementation period has been provided to allow industry participant sufficient time to comply. Some signatories already comply with some or all of the obligations in the Guideline and some exceed them.