Ad Industry Urges Moderation in Online-Marketing Curbs

Coalition of Adverstising Trade Groups Says FTC's Proposed Restrictions on Behavioral Marketing Are Too Stringent

A coalition of advertising industry groups cautioned the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday that pressing for too stringent industry self-regulation of behavioral advertising practices could backfire and ultimately harm consumers.

The Association of National Advertisers filed comments jointly with nine other trade groups, responding to a FTC staff draft filed in December. Behavioral advertising collects information about past activities of individual consumers online to predict preferences that, in turn, leads to tailored marketing messages.

The ANA coalition said the FTC’s proposal for restrictions does not strike a “balance” between interests of both industry and consumers. The ANA comments suggested that the FTC’s position on curbs for using non-identifiable information are too stringent and unnecessary since that info doesn’t harm individual privacy. The trade group was also opposed to an FTC suggestion that consumers be allowed to opt out of anonymous tracking.

Also, the industry coalition said the FTC did not articulate particular areas of concern and FTC comments did not seem to draw from prior regulatory principles.

The whole back-and-forth stems from an exchange with government as industry devises self-regulation rules, and it is not connected with any formal FTC rulemaking.

Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of government relations at ANA, said heavy-handed rules threaten to undercut the booming new media sector that is a bright spot in an otherwise weak media industry. The coalition said robust behavioral marketing will create efficiencies that reduce prices and foster competition.

Some of the other trade groups joining the ANA were the American Advertising Federation, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Note: B&C is owned by Reed Elsevier, which is active in lobbying on marketing-practices issues and regulations.


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