European Commission welcomes industry efforts on OBA


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On 11 December, the European Commission held the most recent in a series of roundtables on online behavioural advertising. The roundtable, brought together under the auspices of DG Connect, invites industry and NGOs together to look into policy options in relation to digital marketing in the context of privacy and data collection, explores and analyses viable solutions and monitors and evaluates on-going industry-led self-regulatory commitments.

Industry reported back on the implementation of the OBA self-regulatory framework and the launch of the European Interactive Digital Alliance (EDAA). The OBA SR framework is designed to provide consumers with the ability to manage their online choices in relation to digital marketing communications through clicking on an icon which is delivered next to online advertising.

Industry reported that the framework in the top 5 European markets (UK, DE, FR, IT, NL) currently averages 86%, up from 75% at the last Round Table and that the icon was being delivered on a monthly average of 9.5 billion impressions across Europe. Consumer visits to the Your Online Choices site saw an average of 900,000 visitors (browsers) per month, over the past 3 months.

The industry reported that it would be conducting consumer research in 2013 relation to consumer attitudes to online privacy as well as a consumer awareness campaign on OBA. The Commission concluded that the results of these two initiatives will be critical to demonstrating the credibility of the industry's responsibility in this space.

The European Interactive Digital Alliance (EDAA) was launched on 12 October and is designed to administer the self-regulation programme for OBA. The website provides all the information necessary for businesses to act upon their commitments – from understanding the integrated structure of the Programme, to applying for licences, to undergoing the appropriate steps for certification.

Robert Madelin, Director General of DG Connect and chair of the roundtable concluded that good progress had been made in bringing the principles of responsible advertising to the digital space, in the form of OBA. He underlined that OBA is clearly the single scope of the EDAA business model. However, the future-looking question is increasingly about 'tracking', beyond OBA. Within this new business ecosystem (the industry coalition and the EDAA) there should be a space to recognise the 'next level' – expanding on the work done to-date to new technologies: 'industry should be recognised for its work here but should start to look now towards the journey ahead'.

Madelin concluded the roundtable saying that it was particularly impressive to see the European industry alliance working together to ensure responsibility in the digital space. The European Commission in particular welcomed the creation of a new actor, the EDAA. But although the purpose of the EDAA as an organisation to deliver on aspects of the OBA Programme was clear, this new structure should be forward-looking, and should engage beyond its strictly OBA scope and “take on a life of its own”.

The next EU Multi-stakeholder OBA Round Table will be held in November 2013.

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