The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK is leading a pan-European campaign to raise awareness of online behavioural advertising and give consumers more control over their data.
The 10-week “Unzipped” campaign, created by MediaCom, will run ads featuring statements: 'How do websites know which ads suit your interests?' and 'Find out what goes on behind the ads you see online.'
The zip then opens to reveal the AdChoices icon, which has been used to signpost targeted online ads to consumers in the UK and EU markets for more than a year.
People can click through the ad to a landing page where they can read about how online advertising works and they can manage their privacy and data settings.
They can see what type of information is collected by websites they visit and how that is used for targeted behavioural or "interest-based" advertising.
Those who click on the icon can also see information on how they can manage their interests such as via privacy dashboards or ad preference managers.
It will also link through to a pan-European site featuring advice on how an individual can protect their privacy and a control page where they can switch off behavioural advertising. Those that opt to do so will still see advertising but it will not be as targeted or relevant to them.
Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey welcomed the move. “I very much support EU-wide industry self-regulation to enhance transparency and consumer choice over online behavioural advertising.
“I particularly welcome this European advertising campaign – with the UK leading the way – to promote greater awareness of the ad icon which can empower consumers to control their data,” he said.
The IAB UK’s director of regulatory affairs Nick Stringer said it is key to raise awareness of the fact that interest-based advertising is based on the sites an individual visits, not any personal information that identifies the user.
“The research is clear: once consumers are aware of these points and know they are in control they are far more open to interest-based ads. Over half a million people a month now visit the UK Your Online Choices site to find out more,” he said.
The aim of the initiative is to ensure people have better information and more control, which will in turn help them make more informed decisions, while also ensuring the continued cultivation of internet innovation, according to Stringer.
“It enables relevant advertising to support innovation on the internet which helps provide the ever-increasing range of online services people rely on so heavily in their daily lives,” he said.
Media owners including Financial Times, Guardian, Telegraph Media Group, Yahoo and Vevo, along with ad technology firms Adconian Media, Criteo, CBS Interactive and Exponential have all donated inventory to support the aim of reaching 30 per cent of all online Britons.
The campaign, which launches in the UK today, will extend to Ireland and Germany later this month, and will be coordinated by Velvet Rock Communications. Campaigns in other EU countries will start in the autumn.