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Submitted by Grant Nelson on April 23, 2018

The move from traditional television to smart and connected televisions is accelerating. Few televisions sold today do not have some smart or connectivity feature, and digital advertisers and regulators alike have taken notice. With the growth of data-enabled television comes privacy concerns, and the NAI commenced a working group to develop standards for NAI members demonstrating responsible use of data.

Draft Guidance

Now, the NAI’s Advanced TV Working Group has published a draft for comment entitled “Guidance for Members: Viewed Content Advertising.” The draft is the result of many meetings, redlines, compromises, and discussions with privacy organizations and we are proud of the hard work of each participant.

This guidance does not weaken any existing guidance. It clarifies that the NAI’s Cross-Device Linking guidance applies to data collected from televisions as devices. It embraces the trend of advanced TV OSes converging with existing mobile operating systems. The Viewed Content Advertising guidance requires opt-in consent for technologies that collect all or nearly all of the viewing activity on a television, implementing the core principle enumerated Vizio.

What Now?

The 24 members of the Working Group have crafted every word carefully, but no one can see the whole picture. We invite NAI member companies to read the guidance and provide their constructive feedback via Grant Nelson (grant AT before June 12th. The NAI has shared this and previous drafts, with several privacy organizations and looks forward to reading the suggestions for improvement.

Read The Guidance.

Submitted by Matt Nichols on April 9, 2018

In late 2017, the NAI was given the opportunity to apply for a pilot survey program in order to run opinion polls and market research on internet users. With this chance to learn more about consumer opinions, we sent out a survey that obtained the responses of 10,000 U.S. consumers to find out more about what they think about online privacy, digital advertising, the ad-supported internet, and ad blocking. The survey was conducted January 29th to February 1st, 2018. 

NAI’s takeaways from the survey results

Our survey’s first question establishes the general level of concern respondents have about their privacy on the Internet. Whether the responses can be contributed to either recent high-profile data breaches, or to the growing national conversation surrounding privacy, “privacy” was stated to be at least “somewhat concern[ing]” for 85% of respondents.  Further, 50% of responses indicate that consumers are either “very” or “extremely” concerned about their privacy. In addition, 14% indicated that privacy was not a concern “at all”.  This indicates there continues to be a variety of attitudes about online privacy, but we must address the majority in the middle who are at least “somewhat concerned” about their privacy.  While this first question establishes that privacy is a concern for most respondents, subsequent questions and responses from the survey further clarifies this concern. 

The survey’s second question asks respondents to share what they felt was the primary reason for their privacy concern on the internet: 56% indicated that hackers were their top concern; a combined 15% said that data collection by either the U.S. or a foreign government was their top concern. As a whole, concerns about data collection by hackers or government entities attribute to 72% of responses to this question. 8% of users were most concerned about website and application publishers collecting data and 7% of users stated that data collection by advertising companies was their primary concern. 

The third question then shifts to help us better understand how consumers believe their access to online content should be financed. The results show overwhelmingly that respondents prefer their online content to be paid for by “Advertising” (67%), and interestingly this response was largely consistent across all age-groups. When this result is combined with the percentage of respondents indicating a preference for a “Donations” model (17%), the two responses account for 84% of all responses. This shows  an even clearer aversion by responders to pay directly for their online content. In fact, only 15% of responses indicated a preference for a subscription or microtransaction model. An interesting parallel to note is that 15% of respondents prefer a subscription or microtransaction model, which aligns with 15% of respondents who previously indicated their biggest privacy concern as AdTech companies and online publishers. 

Responses to the first three questions show individuals’ concern for their online privacy. But, while websites and AdTech play a role in this, albeit a minor one when compared to that of governments and hackers, question four adds further insight to this regarding choice.  When asked who should make the decision concerning opting a consumer out of targeted advertising, responders largely prefer themselves to be in control of this decision, with 79% indicating that “Individuals” should be in control. Interestingly, only 10% of respondents indicated that they prefer their browser to make such decisions on their behalf.

The survey results reveal that while some privacy concerns are associated with AdTech companies, this concern is not nearly as significant as those associated with hackers and government surveillance. But with that, the internet is largely ad-supported, and whether they are aware of this, U.S. consumers prefer their internet to continue to be ad-supported and show a clear disinterest in their content being made available only through subscriptions or microtransactions. But, when consumers are confronted with potential privacy enhancing measures, our survey shows that they want to make this choice themselves. This is a stern rebuttal to both device and browser manufacturers and governments making privacy decisions on consumers’ behalf.

Finally, while ad blocking is sometimes seen as evidence that consumers are taking privacy into their own hands, the final question of the survey shows that ad blockers are not primarily used as a privacy tool, but rather because consumers find ads annoying or because they cause websites to take too long to load and the effect that load time has on data usage.

We hope this survey, and its accompanying results, serve as a catalyst for discourse on not only our industry, but also the NAI’s role as a leading self-regulatory association. 

Full survey results can be found here.

"This research was made possible by Google Surveys, which donated use of its online survey platform. The questions and findings are solely those of the researchers and not influenced by any donation. For more information on the methodology, see the Google Surveys Whitepaper."

Submitted by NAI on February 14, 2018

A viewpoint from Ann Kennedy, Chief Product Officer of ShareThis

GDPR is Coming. Are You Ready For a New Era of Compliance?

The impending arrival of The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from the European Union means that companies have to take consumer privacy more seriously than ever before.

But there's a problem. According to one recent survey of 500 cyber security professionals in the UK, Germany, France, and the US, a whopping 57 percent are concerned about compliance. That suggests many companies are still struggling to get prepared.

To retain consumers' trust at a time when privacy is top of mind and confusion surrounding the use of data in the online ecosystem is high, brands must take a tactical approach to communicating their position. They'll need to offer options that put their customers first. NAI membership and the adoption of self-regulatory principles lays the groundwork. To successfully navigate the new era of data protection, though, every company must adhere to new data collection and usage best practices.

With that in mind, here are three strategies from ShareThis for thriving in a post-GDPR world.

Embrace Transparency

When dealing with consumer privacy, transparency is critical. Organizations must describe their relationship with customer data in as much detail as possible, and in simple terms that consumers can fully grasp. The impetus for GDPR was to give consumers more control over their personal data, so you'll need to explain what you're doing to comply with data protection regulation legislation.

When updating our own privacy disclosures, conveying transparency and consumer-friendly content was paramount for ShareThis -- particularly since we were recently TAG certified against fraud. We made an effort to avoid industry and legal jargon, break down information into manageable parts, and associate each section of our disclosure with a visual icon for easy navigation.

In addition to clearly presenting your stance on privacy, joining the NAI is a great way to ensure you're doing everything you can to comply. Because self-regulatory organizations (SROs) are designed and dedicated to upholding consumer privacy and comprised of members rather than regulators, they can help websites and advertising companies prioritize transparency in the long-term. This unique positioning means SROs are well placed to draft robust and consumer-friendly regulations that keep pace with technology, without restricting innovation. By partnering with them you can put yourself ahead of the game.

Craft a Privacy Notice That Leaves No Stone Unturned

There's no doubt about it: the amount of privacy-related content that consumers are going to encounter in the coming months will be overwhelming. It's crucial, therefore, that your privacy notice clearly communicates your company's privacy policy to everyone who reads it.

What does a strong privacy notice look like? Among other things, it should provide an overview of:

  • The type and categories of data you collect, and who you collect it from
  • The purpose for your data collection practices, including how and why you use consumer data
  • Who has access to the data you collect, and the life cycle of that data (meaning how long it's available to you)
  • How and where the data is stored
  • What you're doing to safeguard customer data in order to protect against theft and fraud
  • Contact information that consumers can refer to should they have a question or complaint about your policy

Finally, be sure to put some thought into how you design your privacy notice. Don't fall victim to the "info dump." We recommend instead that companies offer simplified, topline content and hyperlink to additional information. This presents page visitors with the most important information up front and allows them to dig deeper for as much additional content as they need.

Adopt a Privacy by Design Framework

A concise privacy notice is key -- but that isn't where your commitment to GDPR should end. Moving forward, it's the companies that consider consumer privacy in all aspects of their work that will fare best.

A guiding principle for ShareThis is Privacy by Design, a method of engineering that considers privacy throughout the design process, not as an add-on. For example, implement technical measures in a way that protects privacy and maximizes data protection right from the start by considering users’ preferences. Assure that personal data is always processed in a way that respects consumers' privacy, and limit the number of departments that have access to your customers' personal data.

There are big changes coming -- but make some changes of your own, and you'll be ready for this new era of compliance. For more information on ShareThis visit our website.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Network Advertising Initiative and/or any other contributor to this site.

Submitted by Leigh Freund on December 5, 2017

NAI's travel bonanza is continuing at the start of this holiday season.  This postcard comes from London, where the city is alight with holiday decorations and abuzz with the news of a royal engagement.

I’m writing with news that is more regulatory than regal, but it is still important!  Last week, the IAB Europe published a working paper on consent under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on May 25, 2018, and announced a new technical standard to support the digital advertising ecosystem in meeting the GDPR’s new requirements for user consent.

The working paper and consent standard are products of the IAB Europe’s GDPR Implementation Working Group (GIG), which has been leading this initiative.  The GIG brings together leading experts from across the digital advertising industry, including the NAI and many of our members, to discuss the European Union’s new data protection law, share best practices, and agree on common interpretations and industry positioning on the most important issues for the digital advertising sector.

NAI’s technical and policy staff have been representing our member companies’ interests while actively contributing to the GIG’s progress.

The IAB Europe’s working paper on consent is the third in a series of working papers published by the GIG; all papers are available on the IAB Europe’s website.  The purpose of this paper is to explain the definition of consent under the GDPR, and the practical implications of using consent as a legal basis for processing personal data in the online advertising ecosystem. Download the working paper on consent here.

The consent standard was unveiled at last week’s EDAA 2nd Annual Summit, which brought together 200 participants including advertisers, agencies, ad tech, and media in London.  The standard is a technical mechanism designed to enable websites, advertisers, and their ad technology partners to make robust disclosures regarding data collection and use, as well as obtain, record, and update consumers’ consent for their personal data to be processed, as outlined in the GDPR. Moreover, the mechanism enables transmission of user consent choices throughout the digital advertising ecosystem, increasing accountability in the supply chain by enabling the creation of consent records and an audit trail.

Key features of the consent standard include:

  • Works on mobile devices and desktop devices alike.
  • Enables dynamic disclosure by first parties of third-party advertising partners and the purposes for which they collect and process data.
  • Allows obtaining “global” or “service-specific” affirmative consent, as well as updating consent choices and withdrawing consent.
  • Enables the transmission of user consent choices to third-party advertising partners.
  • Increases accountability in the advertising ecosystem by enabling the creation of consent records and an audit trail.
  • Expedites compliance as it can be deployed before the date of application of the GDPR.

IAB Europe is inviting broader industry engagement over the coming months with an eye toward building cross-industry consensus and fostering a commitment to the standard, the principles around its use, its implementation, and the governance underpinning the tool.

NAI will continue to actively represent its members in the GIG, and work to finalize and implement the consent standard. We also urge NAI members to become independently involved in this industry initiative. Sign up for notifications from the IAB Europe’s mailing list to remain updated on any developments.  More information is available in the full press release here.

Our "postcards from..." series will soon take a short hiatus as the NAI staff spends some time with family and friends over the holidays.  We'll be back in January and first up will be a glimpse at the digital advertising industry's best new technology from CES in Las Vegas.

Best wishes for a very happy holiday season!