ASA to regulate OBA

The advertising networks behind online brand ads will have to explicitly state to customers they are collecting data to target them with online advertisements or face censure following the decision to extend the Advertising Standards Authority’s remit.


From February 2013 ads presented to consumers based on browsing history data, the practice known as online behavioural advertising (OBA), will have to include information within or near the ad explaining to consumers they have been targeted using the tool.

The ASA will also be tasked in ensuring that consumers are offered an option to opt out. Brands have to include a mechanism to gain consent from users to use cookies that procure data for marketing or other purposes under the terms of the European Union Privacy Directive introduced in May and enforced by the ICO.

The move follows recommendations set out in a best practice framework developed by trade bodies, ad networks and publishers in April last year. This was an attempt to develop pan-European standards on the use of OBA to allay European Commission concerns over privacy.

Advertising bodies welcomed the decision to extend the ASA’s remit. The Advertising Association’s director of public affairs Sue Eustace says: “Relevant ads are good for consumers, web publishers and advertisers – but people need to know about, and have control over, how they’re delivered.”

The new rules will be added to the CAP code on 4 February

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