ANA Argues that Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising Will Best Protect Consumers and the Online Economy

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has joined with other industry groups in arguing that the new self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising launched last fall will do the best job of protecting consumers and the vital online marketplace.  ANA joined in two sets of comments that were filed today with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in response to a preliminary Staff Report released by the Commission on December 10, 2010, entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”

Dan Jaffe, ANA’s Executive Vice President, Government Relations stated:  “We believe a rigid, government-imposed regulatory regime, such as the ‘Do Not Track’ approach suggested in the preliminary FTC report, would be bad for consumers, businesses and the online marketplace.  The ad-supported Internet contributes $300 billion to the American economy and supports 3.1 million jobs.  Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has described the Internet as the ‘central nervous system’ of our economy.  This is absolutely the worst time to impose overly restrictive new rules that would stifle growth and innovation in the online marketplace.” 

The industry comments describe the vital role that advertising serves in the online marketplace: “For almost two decades, online advertising has been an economic driver that has fueled Internet growth and delivered innovative tools and services used by consumers and businesses to connect, communicate and contribute to the continued evolution of the Internet.  This advertising-based model continues to drive Internet growth and deliver consumer benefit.”

Jaffe stated: “We believe our self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising is the most effective approach for protecting consumer privacy without smothering the continued growth and innovation in the online marketplace.  That   program gives consumers the ability to exercise choice and control over the data used by marketers to create online behavioral advertising.    We have urged all of our members to join this important program.  We have collectively made substantial progress since the program’s launch last October and continue to ramp up participation across the entire online ecosystem.  We urge the Commission and the Congress to give us the opportunity to demonstrate that this approach will best protect both consumers and the economy.”

Jaffe concluded: “A rigid ‘Do Not Track’ mechanism mandated by the government would also offer consumers a false promise.  It would not stop or curtail online advertising.  In fact, consumers would likely see more, not less, unwanted advertising about products in which they have no interest.  By limiting the ability of marketers to deliver ads which are tailored to the interests of consumers, this regulatory regime would seriously undermine the economic efficiency of the Internet.”

The effort behind the self-regulatory program was led by a coalition of the nation’s largest marketing and media trade associations, including the ANA, 4As, the American Advertising Federation, the Direct Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, supported by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.  More information about the program is available at
The industry comments are available here and comments on the status of the self-regulatory program are available here.