Two years after it began enforcing online interest-based advertising (IBA) standards north of the U.S., Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) is pleased with its progress, though its latest report acknowledges there remain challenges ahead.

According to the AdChoices Accountability Program 2016 Compliance Report, 69 per cent (or 51 of 74) of participants in ASC’s Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada (DAAC) self-regulation program complied with the organization’s Principles for Online Behavioural Advertising, a significant increase from the 20 per cent participation rate (10 of 50) uncovered by ASC’s initial 2015 review.

The report also found that 95 per cent of DAAC program participants, which include such high-profile firms as Amazon.com.ca Inc., Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Corp., and Microsoft Online Inc., provided consumers with a transparent method for opting out of IBA activity, versus 69 per cent of non-participating companies.

Finally, the report found that 90 per cent of program participants provided real-time notice that IBA-related data gathering was occurring, compared to 31 per cent of non-participating companies, though both parties were at least more likely than not to disclose IBA-related activity, with 87 per cent of DAAC participants and 77 per cent of non-participants posting disclosures somewhere on their websites.

In a Feb. 8 statement, ASC president and CEO Jani Yates praised DAAC participants for warmly welcoming the organization’s recommendations

“Participants continue to invest the significant resources that successful implementation requires,” she said. “We thank them for their cooperation, commitment, and enthusiasm for achieving the DAAC program requirements.”

ASC also revealed that between January and December 2016, the organization received 283 consumer complaints under its IBA Accountability and Complaint procedure – nearly double the 142 complaints received in 2015. It was determined that only 24 (eight per cent) raised legitimate concerns, however, as all complains involved allegations that an IBA opt-out mechanism did not work, and that in most of these cases complainants believed that after opting out they would not receive any advertising at all.

Five tips for companies aiming to comply with DAAC principles

The ASC offers the following five recommendations for companies interested in complying with the DAAC program, which calls for participants to educate individuals and businesses about online behavioural advertising; to provide consumers with “clear, meaningful and prominent notice” regarding data collection; to provide an opt-out mechanism; to provide appropriate security for, and limited retention of, data collected; to remain accountable for their actions, illustrated by the compliance reports; and which prohibits companies from collecting personal information for OBA purposes from children known to be under the age of 13, or from sites aimed at children under 13.

  1. Review the DAAC AdChoices Program requirements (included in the report) and allocate human and financial resources towards implementing them.
  2. Make sure your website includes a prominent real-time notice that links to an IBA disclosure and opt-out mechanism when collecting or using data for IBA purposes.
  3. Ensure that all opt-out mechanisms are fully functional. The ASC offers its own mechanism here, and third parties Ghostery and TrustE provide tools of their own as well.
  4. Use the AdChoices icon and accompanying “AdChoices” or “Choix de pub” text (below).
  5. Regularly review your IBA activity to ensure ongoing compliance with the program’s five principles: transparency; education; data security; sensitive data; and accountability.
The AdChoices logo, intended as a universal symbol of responsible advertising.

For more information, check out the ASC’s website.

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