Ethics Alert Series

Role of Self-Regulation in the Digital Ad Space

By Lisa Shosteck

Self-regulation and ethical marketing are at the core of building consumer trust and loyalty. This ethics update focuses on key consumer marketing issues to highlight the ethical standards of applicability and to assure best practices are communicated and followed.

It was great to participate in the Annual Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Summit, which took place from June 23 and 24, 2021. The event brought together top industry leaders in this space. It's important to knowledge-share and be kept abreast of the many factors which shape the digital advertising landscape including:

  • Technological advancements
  • Big tech privacy moves including heading toward a cookie-less world
  • Pending, newly enacted, and proposed legislation at the state and federal levels
  • Regulatory changes which impacts enforcement.

Regardless of the fluid nature of these factors, the vital backbone of this space and an area that is close and dear to my heart is self-regulation, best practices, and compliance.


The Digital Advertising Alliance has created an industry-supported program and tools to guide companies on the appropriate notice, choice, and transparency marketers should be providing to consumers to help them better manage their online interest-based ad experience.

ANA serves as a founding member and as one of the DAA compliance partners. As one of the enforcement arms to this program, ANA offers guidance to both companies and consumers to help ensure compliance.

Business Information and Tools

The ANA offers a robust toolkit of principles, guidance, and checklists on industry standards to guide businesses in engaging in an online advertising program.

Key steps to ensure compliance:

  • If engaging in online interest-based advertising (IBA), make sure your company's privacy policy reflects what types of IBA data you are collecting, which devices you are collecting/sharing IBA data with, which partners you are sharing IBA data with, and how consumers can manage IBA across their devices.
  • Marketers should provide consumers with a link to a tool, like DAA's Choice Tools, to control and manage their online ad experience.
  • Marketers should also include a statement of adherence to DAA's self-regulatory principles.
  • To meet the enhanced notice requirements (whereby third parties are collecting for IBA purposes on your website): The company's website should have an enhanced notice and choice available.
    • There should be an enhanced link on every page that third-party IBA is collected. One way to meet this compliance is to provide a footer that links to either a separate notice/choice policy on IBA OR to a specific section of your privacy policy that covers IBA notice/choice.
    • Some sample footers: "Your Ad Choices" and/or "Online Ad Preferences"
      • Do not link the footer directly to DAA's Choice page.
      • Do not link the footer to automatically remove the consumer from IBA cross-device collection.

Consumer Information and Tools

The DAA opt-out tool is designed to give consumers three options to opt-out of online ads that are served based on browsing history:

This opt-out tool does not eliminate all online ads. Users will still be served general ads that are used to support the internet, news, games, etc. Consumers who experience any issues with this opt-out program, can file a complaint with the ANA. There is also a form for complaints regarding transparency in online political ads.


Self-regulation is key. The ANA has processed 826 inquiries from consumers regarding concerns with digital ads in the following areas (the reporting period covers January to May 2021) and reached a conclusion:

If engaging in Interest-based advertising, make sure an IBA compliant online privacy notice is included, which contains an adherence to industry standard principles, notice, choice, and transparency. Building consumer trust and honoring consumer choices are vital for every marketer's brand and the industry as a whole.

Stay current and get more involved. if you are interested in knowledge-sharing and connecting with other ANA members about this issue and marketing and ethics, there are different opportunities to get involved:

  • PRAM (Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media): As providers move toward limiting use of third-party cookies in serving online ads, the industry is looking at other modes and unique identifiers for serving relevant online advertising. To learn more and get more involved in this effort, please visit and engage with PRAM.
  • ANA Ethics Review Committee: The committee reviews and recommends actions on marketing and ethics complaints and educates companies and consumers.
  • ANA Ethics Policy Committee: This committee reviews pending activities at the federal and state levels; learns about best practices and key topics and provides input into guidance on related ethical standards and compliance issues.

If you have questions or want to get more involved in marketing and ethics, please contact



"Role of Self-Regulation in the Digital Ad Space." ANA, 2021.