IAB UK’s guide to the EU self-regulatory initiative for behavioural advertising

Posted on Friday 04 June 2021

Welcome to the IAB UK’s guide to the EU self-regulatory initiative for behavioural advertising.

Below you will find answers to a range of questions designed to help you get to grips with the EU self-regulatory initiative for behavioural advertising. Simply click on the links to be taken to the relevant answer within this page. This guide should be read in conjunction with the specific FAQs from the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA), the body that administers the initiative across EU and EEA markets.

Give me a quick overview of the initiative. What is the scope? Who should be signing up?

The EU initiative aims to provide greater consumer transparency and control over behavioural advertising. In the EU Framework, behavioural advertising is defined as:

The collection of data from a particular computer or device regarding web viewing behaviours over time and across multiple web domains not under Common Control for the purpose of using such data to predict web user preferences or interests to deliver online advertising to that particular computer or device based on the preferences or interests inferred from such web viewing behaviours.

It therefore applies to third party ‘intermediary’ ad businesses. For example: ad networks, ad tech companies, data aggregators, Demand Management Platforms (DMPs), Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs). For the avoidance of doubt it also applies to retargeting.

A copy of the Principles is available here. IAB UK has also produced a short fact sheet, available here. The IAB UK has also pulled together a short slide deck on the initiative and this is available for you to download and use with clients (and other stakeholders). You can download it here.  The EDAA has also produced an infographic for ad businesses explaining why they should sign up and comply.

What is not in scope?

The initiative does not cover ‘first party’ behavioural advertising on a publisher's own digital property (website, app). It also does not include ad delivery, ad reporting or contextual advertising.

What do I need to do?

If you are an advertising / data business that has obligations then you need to sign up. Publishers utilising third party data should also be signing up. To do so follow the instructions here. Web publishers, advertisers and agencies can support the initiative by ensuring that the ‘third parties’ they work with are committed. In time they will also have an important role to play in ensuring compliance.

Who’s involved?

You can find a list of all the businesses involved here. This list also shows the steps towards full compliance that each business is taking (ie do they have the EDAA Trust Seal yet?).

Do my clients support this?

Yes. The initiative is supported right across the EU advertising industry on both the buy and sell side. For example: by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) - see here. At an operational level, the IAB is working to inform the market to ensure a smooth implementation (for example: helping businesses towards full compliance). 

Who is the EDAA? What does it do?

The EDAA is the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance and is governed by leading EU advertising bodies. It is chaired by IAB Europe. The EDAA administers the initiative. For example: it licences the icon. It also publishes annual reports charting the initiative's progress (you can read the latest version here) as well as hosting an annual summit. You can learn more about the EDAA at www.edaa.eu. 

What is the icon? Where does it go?

The icon (see below) is at the heart of the initiative and will appear in or around display ads. This is an obligation under the EU self-regulatory programme. Publishers may also show the icon on their pages (eg as a footer) and app providers in their settings. This is good practice but neither of these is mandatory under the initiative.

How do I licence the icon? Do I need to pay?

A licence to use the icon across EU and EEA markets can be purchased from the EDAA. Fees will depend on your business model and you can find out more here

I have been granted the right to use the icon from the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) in the USA. Do I need to purchase a separate one for use across EU and EEA markets?


What do these icon fees pay for?

The icon fees – which are paid to the EDAA - help to run and administer the self- regulatory initiative in Europe. For example: they will help each country’s self-regulatory organisation (eg Advertising Standards Authority) to handle consumer complaints and help enforce the initiative. You can see the full tariff schedule here

How do I implement the icon? What about rich media and video ads?

Technical specifications for implementing the icon are available here. Approved EDAA icon providers are Ghostery and TrustArc. The EDAA has also developed specific technical guidelines for implementing the icon on video ads here.

What is the www.youronlinechoices.eu website?

The website – run by the EDAA – is a consumer facing information portal available in 27 different European languages. It contains helpful information for consumers on how behavioural advertising works and how privacy is protected. The site also has a ‘one stop shop’ opt out page. The UK version of the website can be found at: www.youronlinechoices.com/uk. It also includes a plug-in (beta) for the Chrome and Firefox web browsers to make the opt out persistent. The site is also optimised for mobile web browsing. It also includes plug-ins (beta) for the Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox web browsers to make the opt-out persistent. The site is also optimised for mobile web browsing. 

How is the website funded?

Relevant third party businesses need to be listed on the opt-out page and this will incur a small fee to help run, develop and improve the website. For example: monitoring the performance of the page / company opt-outs. You can see the full tariff schedule here

Who will check that I'm complying?

Intermediary ad businesses will need to self-certify their compliance with the Principles. This will be independently verified on an ongoing basis and, in complying, businesses will receive a trust seal. In time advertisers and agencies will look for the trust seal when trading and this will help to encourage take up and compliance. The EDAA has four approved providers to do this. For further information on this please see the relevant section of the EDAA site: www.edaa.eu/certification-process/trust-seal.  Businesses that have already been awarded the EDAA Trust Seal can be found here.

There are several steps for a business to take towards full compliance:

  1. If (where appropriate) you haven’t completed the process for licensing the icon you should so this here. Also – again if appropriate – you should integrate with the website and opt out platform on www.youronlinechoices.com/uk/your-ad-choices (UK version). 
  2. Self-certify your compliance with the EU Framework here. This needs to be done within six months of obtaining the relevant licences. Self-certified businesses will be listed on the EDAA site.
  3. Within seven months of obtaining the license you will need to have selected a certified provider and completed the independent verification process. The EDAA has announced three approved providers for you to choose from and others are likely to follow shortly. All the provider services and relevant contact details will be the EDAA's website.
  4. Compliant businesses will be awarded the trust seal which will be important in demonstrating compliance to the market(s). The seal will be awarded after 30 days of monitoring compliance (so a total of eight months after licensing the icon).

For further information on this please see the relevant section of the EDAA site: www.edaa.eu/certification-process/trust-seal and FAQ's. 

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will also help enforcing the practices that businesses are implementing as well as handle any consumer complaints. Other self-regulatory bodies across EU markets will place a similar role to ensure a consistent approach across Europe. You can find out how this will work in practice and how it will fit into the broader EU context via our Q&A here.

I've heard the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is involved? How does this work?

The ASA will play a role in handling consumer complaints and enforcing the practices that businesses are implementing. Other self-regulatory bodies across EU markets will place a similar role to ensure a consistent approach across Europe. You can find out how this will work in practice and how it will fit into the broader EU context via our Q&A here.

How are we raising awareness amongst the general public about the icon?

The EDAA has conducted 18 campaigns across Europe, including in the UK. The aim of the campaigns is to raise awareness of the icon and the linked tools that allow people to manage their advertising preferences. You can find out more about the UK campaign here.

The EDAA and TRUSTe carried out research amongst 13,000 people across 13 European markets between October and November 2015. This found that consumer awareness of the initiative and the icon is rising. For example: the results show that awareness of the icon continues to rise in Great Britain - increasing from 13%  in 2012 to 28% in 2015.

In 10 out of the 13 countries, those who have seen the icon are choosing to find out more: for example, at least one in four adults who have seen the icon report they have clicked on it. Also, when presented with information provided by clicking on the icon and having the opportunity to manage their privacy preferences, more than two in five (44%) across the 13 countries surveyed report being more favourable about the concept of Online Behavioural Advertising. For more information on the latest research see here. The research is repeated annually.

What about mobile and other connected devices? Should I be serving the icon on these ads?

Yes. The principles established in the EU self-regulatory framework are device-neutral. On March 12016, the EDAA launched its New Mobile Principles. The Principles apply the existing rules of transparency and control and expands the scope to cover the collection and use of cross-application data, location data and personal device data. The Your Online Choices site is optimised for mobile web browsing too. 

Are there similar initiatives elsewhere (ie other than for Europe)?

Yes. There are similar initiatives in the USA and Canada. You can find out more at www.aboutads.info (US) and www.youradchoices.ca (Canada). 

Do I need to be an IAB (or other trade association) member to get involved?

No. However, we would encourage all relevant IAB UK members to sign up and comply.

Will complying with this initiative mean I’m complying with existing EU data privacy laws (e.g. ePrivacy Directive, GDPR)?

No. However, providing transparency and control is an important part of delivering compliance under both the ePrivacy Directive (as transposed into UK law – see here) as well as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will apply across EU markets from 25 May 2018. Have a look at IAB UK’s briefing for its member businesses on this (NB IAB UK member sign-in required). Intermediary advertising businesses will still need to work with their partners (such as publishers) to achieve full compliance.

Will the UK leaving the European Union impact this initiative in any way?

No. The initiative already includes Switzerland and Turkey that both sit outside of the EU and EEA. It will continue to progress and evolve in a post-Brexit world.

How does this fit in with the UK rules on 'cookies'?

It is separate. The EU self-regulatory initiative does not address consent but is a good way of giving people more information about targeted advertising and how it can be managed. For further information visit the IAB UK factsheet.

What do policy makers think of this initiative?

The UK Government and the European Commission is supportive of the initiative, and we continue to brief policy-makers as both the initiative and the data privacy landscape evolves.

Here are some important quotes from some important people:

“I am impressed with the way in which the advertising industry has succeeded, in a short time, in putting in place a new, effective self-regulatory framework. The principles, procedures and tools help to manage online behavioural advertising and to raise citizens’ awareness. Together, these efforts will contribute significantly to empowering internet users in the management of their privacy across Europe.”

Robert Madelin, Director General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology at the European Commission, Speech at the launch of the EDAA, Brussels 12 October 2012. 

“So today I want to say to those involved in Online Behavioural Advertising self-regulation here in Europe: well done for reaching another milestone and launching the legal entity governing your programme this week. The signatories deserve praise and encouragement for going in the right direction. You have worked hard, and have done well.”

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Speech to the Centre for Policy Studies, Brussels, 11 October 2012.

“Data is a driver for growth and creativity. I believe that transparency is essential if consumers are to feel safe and empowered by the use internet, and the data that flows across it. Good progress is being made here. For example the Ad Choices self-regulatory work on transparency means consumers can now not only see which advertising networks use their data, they can opt out of targeted behavioural advertising if they wish.”

Speech by Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP, (Now Ex-)UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Speech to Oxford Media Convention, 26 February 2014.

“That is why something like the IAB’s Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) Framework is so important. This is something which offers users further information about the ads they are seeing without doing so in an obtrusive or disruptive way. And it is a fantastic example of the willingness of industry to work together to find solutions which suit both business and users. The OBA framework is an essential element of a series of measures being taken across industry, which we believe will give users more control over their privacy online.”

Ed Vaizey MP, UK Minister for the Culture, Communications & Creative Industries, Speech to the IAB Engage event, London, 3 November 2011

“We are also supporting cross-industry work on the use of third party cookies in behavioural advertising. And this is an example of where industry-led solutions can provide an answer… This approach gives the consumer more information on the use of cookies, as well as introducing a self- regulatory compliance and enforcement mechanism. Through clicking on the icon the consumer will be informed about: each specific internet advert; who the advertiser is; the server; who the advert was customised by; and an option to refuse those and other cookies. The icon is exactly the sort of industry developed solution that we see as critical to the UK’s ability to meet the requirements of the Directive.”

Ed Vaizey MP, UK Minister for the Culture, Communications & Creative Industries, Speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), London, 29 March 2011

Helpful answers but I still have questions. Who do I contact?

The EDAA has a list of FAQs that might also be able to help you. See: http://edaa.eu/faq/. If you still have questions contact IAB UK at [email protected].


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