Online Advertising: The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Yes, it is true. While I don’t claim ministerial prowess or even great oration skills, I do knowThe More You Know a truth when I hear/read one – whether from the pulpit or the pdf. Delivering truth is the situation the digital advertising industry currently faces. How, you ask? If you haven’t noticed, there is an onslaught of negative press and backlash about what digital marketers are collecting regarding online behavior; personally identifiable information; how their creating target audiences and which companies are “going too far.”

One only need go to theĀ Wall Street Journal to read an article of carefully crafted and curiously self-omitting half truths about what the industry is about and why advertisers feel the need to gather information about online behavior. Many of the articles, interviews and generally accepted myths I’ve read and heard have been not only off base but close to fear-mongering. As an online advertising industry, of which automotive represents roughly 10%, we have done a poor job of getting ahead of the story with education and transparency. We all know what follows lack of understanding…fear.

One of my favorite organizations, the IAB, has done some good work putting together a document that proposes we self-regulate the industry and educate the constituents. It can be found on their website, under ‘Self Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.’ There are 7 tenets (they call them principles) that we all on the data and customer facing sides of the industry should follow. They are:

  1. The Education Principle
  2. The Transparency Principle
  3. The Consumer Control Principle
  4. The Data Security Principle
  5. The Material Changes Principle
  6. The Sensitive Data Principle
  7. The Accountability Principle

To learn more about each, and see how they are proposed to be put in to practice please click on the above link to the document. The most important thing we can do to keep the internet a place where people can inexpensively exchange ideas, is to bring relevant advertising content. Without ad dollars, the internet will lose some of its egalitarianism, creativity, and public support so we must all do our part to make sure it continues to grow unfettered by complicated pay-for-content models.

I’m proposing each advertiser take a good look at what they can do to increase education in an effort to reduce fear. Once people learn about what is actually being done by reputable companies, they see much less need to worry and regulate a growing industry designed to bring the most relevant content to the eyes of web surfers. As long as you heard me I’m stepping off of my soapbox.