Behavioural targeting taskforce to become permanent IAB council

The Internet Advertising Bureau plans to develop its behavioural targeting taskforce into a permanent council within the trade body in a bid to restore confidence in the sector.

The council will build on the work of the taskforce, which was created to develop standards for the troubled sector and promote greater education about the technology to ensure transparency for users.

The taskforce is also investigating compliance and enforcement procedures for any companies that fail to comply with the guidelines, including appointing an independent firm to vet members.

The move comes as industry experts raise concerns that public controversy surrounding behavioural targeting and privacy issues could damage the emerging technology.

Behavioural targeting, which works by tracking users’ internet habits to serve them relevant ads, is facing public scrutiny after the European Commission took legal action against the Government, which it claims breached the European Union ePrivacy Directive ( 14 April 2009).

Farzad Jamal, group internet controller at Express Newspapers, said, “It’s damaging to our brand if our readers feel they’re being targeted without their authority. People become fearful if they think their data may have been accessed.”

EasyHotel’s commercial director Calum Russell said, “We’re pushing the adoption of it further down the line and waiting for the outcome of the controversy. Then we’ll be in a better position to consider the opportunities for us.”

Stuart Colman, MD of European operations at Audience Science, said, “There needs to be education and outreach from ourselves and competitors. There’s a danger behavioural targeting could be affected [by the legal action].”

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