As interest-based advertising evolves there’s an urgent need to understand changes, says DAAC

AdChoices is a comprehensive, industry-leading tool for organizations' privacy toolboxes
As interest-based advertising evolves there’s an urgent need to understand changes, says DAAC

This article was created in partnership with DAAC

Online behavioral advertising operates in myriad and evolving ways and for in-house lawyers or those working with businesses, “there’s an urgent need to understand the changes,” says Julie Ford, executive director of the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada (DAAC).

“This is especially critical for lawyers who work with advertisers and publishers. They need to know what’s happening technologically and ensure clients are aligning with the values and the spirit of Canadian privacy law. Our program is a way to help them do that.”

Following the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s guidance and reports of findings on how to align with the current federal data privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), DAAC created a comprehensive self-regulatory program called AdChoices that makes it simple for organizations to adopt best practices that facilitate compliance with the law.

“As an industry, we got together to develop a program for advertisers, publishers, and their third-party advertising partners that gives them tools and rules to follow to respect consumer rights to transparency and choice for targeted advertising,” Ford explains, adding that they used the Privacy Commissioner’s guidance to anchor AdChoices’ design and policies. “We provide several tools for an organization’s privacy toolboxes.”

What is the AdChoices program — and what can it do for you?

The AdChoices self-regulatory program was created for interest-based advertising, and operates individually in Canada, the EU, and the US, tailored to each market. PIPEDA essentially requires that individuals who come to an organization’s digital properties be made aware that their information is being gathered, either at the time of or before collection; that there is a clearly defined opt-out option that is immediate and persistent; and that any information gathered should be destroyed or de-identified as soon as possible. While not a hard compliance program, it’s served as an industry best practice for over a decade now. Working with corporate lawyers, in-house counsel, and external counsel dealing with mid- to high-level CPGs, financial institutions, or telcos, for example, DAAC’s program is an effective value-add. Hundreds of websites/brands are leveraging the program and its opt-out tools and more businesses register every day.

The framework for the program is based off DAAC Principles, which focuses on education, transparency, consumer control, data security, sensitive data, and accountability. When a new company comes aboard, the first thing they do is review this document and the six core principles. The interactive AdChoices icon can be placed on an organization’s website, on their own ads, and on any apps they may have. The icon enables consumers to click for more information on who placed the ad, for example, and how to opt out.

“The goal through our program is to make things simple for consumers to understand,” Ford says. “We direct them to a plain language notice that explains things to them in a couple paragraphs, we don’t want to reroute them to a long privacy notice written in legalese.”

AdChoices also offers additional documents that layer on top of DAAC Principles, including the Implementation Toolkit that outlines what DAAC’s tools do, provides recommendations for compliance, and even highlights specific use cases.

Independent accountability key component

“All of this documentation is helpful, but what makes this program really interesting is that we have independent accountability oversight,” Ford notes. “It’s more than just saying they’re going to do this, they have to prove it through our program.”

When an organization joins and makes a commitment to following the principles, they have to sign a self-attestation form and answer to Ad Standards, DAAC’s accountability partner, who will verify that they’re complying and work with the business to bring it back inline if it is not in compliance. This is a key component, especially for large organizations who join because they want to do more than their competitors and love the idea of an independent arm that they can lean on not only for compliance but for advice as well: on top of fielding consumer complaints and assisting wherever possible, Ad Standards issues annual compliance reports.

“The reports are great because they give you an idea of what they’re looking for from participants, and what they’ve seen that’s working and what isn’t, and gives guidance as to what they could be doing better as a group of companies,” Ford says.

AdChoices also offers intangible, but just as impactful, benefits

From keeping an eye on Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, and navigating Quebec’s Law 25 alongside PIPEDA, to evolving industry standards such as the end of third-party cookies for which AdChoices now offers a Token Tool, there’s no shortage of change to keep up with — and the program has its participants covered in that aspect as well. DAAC’s position between privacy and marketing offers a consultative value, observing both spaces “and translating what we see for the other sectors,” Ford says.

And as the market transitions both technologically and legislatively, sharing neutral information and establishing access to other like-minded program participants who share the same values is increasingly critical. Participants have the ability to join the DAAC’s Stakeholder Advisory Group, for example, which underscores a company’s commitment to thought leadership in the space and can go far in enhancing consumer trust in the brand and showcasing integrity.

“The companies that join have the resources to care about the ethics side of the business — this is an ethics-type of program — and it’s less about checking off compliance boxes and more about supporting an ethical consumer-respecting advertising landscape and wanting to work with people who are of the same mindset,” Ford says.

Coming aboard AdChoices and following the principles responds to business-critical needs not only by facilitating alignment with privacy regulation, but through less tangible, but just as impactful, benefits. According to current participants who shared their views in a recent workshop, the program builds consumer trust by providing transparency and control and protects their brand reputation as a responsible corporate citizen. Continuing to provide support and guidance to participants in achieving these goals, along with compliance, is a main driver for DAAC.

“We’re at a phase now where we want to grow,” Ford says. “We offer a lot to lawyers and their clients, and especially in today’s ever-changing landscape we want to spread the word.”

For more information on how DAAC can keep you and your clients informed, prepared, and at the forefront of the evolution of privacy and marketing, reach out today.