BBB Accountability Program Cracks Down on Targeted Advertising Activities

Website Operators Must Provide Enhanced Notice

By Richard EisertTechnology, Digital Media & Privacy Partner and Paavana KumarAdvertising, Marketing & Promotions Associate at Davis & Gilbert LLP

Richard Eisert, Partner, Davis & Gilbert  Paavana Kumar, Associate, Davis & Gilbert

In the Better Business Bureau’s Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program’s first enforcement action since issuing a compliance warning in October 2013, five website companies were challenged in November for not providing notice to consumers on every page where third parties were collecting their data in order to serve them with targeted ads (a practice known as online behavioral advertising (OBA)).

“Enhanced Notice”

The October compliance warning had advised publishers and website operators to provide “clear, meaningful and prominent” notification links on all pages where OBA data collection takes place. The notification links, per the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) guidelines, should allow consumers to access a description of OBA, a list of third-party advertisers operating on the website page, and an opt-out.  This information can be contained on a third-party industry website or within the website operator’s own privacy policy. While including such notification links is clearly a best practice, it should be noted that where OBA data collection on a website is solely taking place through third parties who are displaying the DAA AdChoices icon on their ads, the notification link is technically not required.

Yelp and Buzzfeed were among the companies named by the Accountability Program. Both companies offered online privacy policies, but did not display separate links devoted to behavioral advertising on every page where the applicable data collection was taking place.

Stay Aware

The provision of notice and choice to consumers with respect to OBA activities is clearly on the Accountability Program’s radar, and the Program will likely continue to formally review publisher sites to determine compliance. As such, website operators and publishers should be sure to review and comply with the Program’s standards going forward.

For more Information:


Richard Eisert

Davis & Gilbert, Technology, Digital Media & Privacy Partner



Paavana Kumar

Davis & Gilbert, Advertising, Marketing & Promotions Associate


Davis & Gilbert was proud to sponsor the AdThink program “What’s Trending in Tech & Advertising” presented by The Advertising Club of New York and Advertising Redbooks held in New York City on December 9, 2014.