This post was written by Kristin A. Hird and Dana B. Rosenfeld.
A broad coalition of advertising associations has agreed on a standard icon – a white “i” surrounded by a circle on a blue background dubbed the “Power I” – which will be added to websites and will link consumers to a page explaining how the advertiser uses their demographics and behavioral data to send certain ads. Developing the new symbol is part of self-regulatory principles agreed to by major advertising groups including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, in an effort to address the FTC’s concerns about the behavioral advertising industry’s activities.
There is no legal requirement that the groups’ members adopt the icon but the advertising coalition expects that most of its members, including many major online retailers, will begin running it by midsummer. It is anticipated that the icon will initially appear with phrases such as “Why did I get this ad?” and the Interactive Advertising Bureau has started an online advertising campaign to explain the icon to consumers. The idea is to establish an immediately recognizable and trusted symbol as well as provide a link to information.
It’s yet to be seen how widespread implementation of the self-regulatory principles will be by the coalition’s members, much less whether the coalition’s steps will be sufficient to ward off regulation by the FTC. But keep an eye out for the little blue icon appearing on websites this summer.