Online advertising services sometimes use information to serve customized ads that are based on predictions about consumers’ interests generated from their visits across different web sites. Through industry self-regulatory programs, consumers are also provided transparency and choice about such interest-based ads, and the means to store opts in their browsers to this type of advertising. As part of a broad cross-industry effort, leading advertising and marketing associations have collaborated to establish a new website to provide these choices from their participating companies. Portland Webworks was chosen by one of these industry associations — the Network Advertising Initiative — to help build the new platform to support this cross-industry effort.
Portland Webworks helped the cross-industry program design and launch aboutads.info, which provides a centralized resource for information about interest-based advertising and the self-regulatory program. The site also incorporates a platform for consumer choice that detects users’ current status for receiving customized ads, and that also provides an easy-to-use interface for managing preferences for some or all advertising companies. Users of the site can automatically set “opt-out cookies” that allow participating companies to help recognize users’ preferences not to receive customized ads.
The site now serves an important resource for consumer information and choice, and reinforces the industry’s commitment to transparency for interest-based advertising. The site not only provides enhanced functionality for rendering company opt opts (the platform operates on a broad variety of browser types, including tablets and mobile devices), it is also highly scalable to accommodate broad participation by advertising companies; and will be adaptable to provide additional consumer-facing disclosures and functionality. Additionally, the platform incorporates security features designed to help prevent misuse of the opt out features.