Improving the User Experience on Websites
Overall, First Party AdChoices participants have made solid efforts to achieve compliance on their websites, ensuring that users are provided with adequate information about IBA and the ability to exercise choice. However, we believe that AdChoices participants can still make improvements to provide users with clearer information, and to ensure that the opt-out process is seamless.
PROVIDE A BETTER DISCLOSURE
One of the most challenging parts of providing consumers with adequate transparency and control, is drafting an effective disclosure.
Disclosures should be drafted in plain language that the average consumer will understand, and must still be accurate. The disclosure must be comprehensive enough, and cover all required elements (i.e. type of data collected, how data is used, who the data will be shared with), while still being concise enough not to lose the reader.
Describing Data Collection, Use and Disclosure
It is vital to be accurate and complete, even when trying to be concise, or writing in layperson’s terms. In an IBA disclosure, always ask whether the following have been answered:
- "What type of data is being collected?"
Generally, merely stating that “data is being collected” is insufficient. A user should be able understand what type of data is being collected – for example “information about your browsing patterns and activity on this website”.
- "How is the data being used?"
It should be clearly explained that the data being collected will be used to target or serve the user with relevant and/or interest based advertisements on the internet (and on mobile apps, if applicable).
- "Who will the data be shared with?"
The “Layered Approach” to Informing the User
In May 2018, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (“OPC”) released Guidelines for Obtaining Meaningful Consent, which should be helpful for AdChoices participants in drafting the most effective disclosures possible.
PROVIDE A MORE EFFECTIVE OPT-OUT MECHANISM
Consumers must understand they are under no obligation to have their data collected for IBA purposes in order to continue using a website or app. Their ability to opt out must clearly be made known to them, and it must not be difficult to exercise the option to opt out.
An Opt-Out Mechanism Must Be Provided for All Third Parties
Perhaps most importantly, First Parties must understand that if they are allowing a Third Party to collect and use data for IBA on their website, but there is no opt-out available for that Third Party, then they will not be compliant with AdChoices. It is not enough to simply inform the user who is collecting and using their data – the user must be able to exercise choice.
Transparency and Control are the fundamental tenets of AdChoices. First Parties must ensure an opt-out is provided for all Third Parties engaged in IBA activity on their website, and if they are unable to, must prevent that Third Party from tracking consumers for IBA purposes.
Opting Out Must Be Efficient and Easy
AdChoices requires First Parties to provide an easy-to-use Opt-Out Mechanism covering all Third Parties collecting and using data for IBA on their websites.
Ad Standards recognizes that First Party AdChoices participants have been diligent about providing an Opt-Out Mechanism. However, in some cases, these mechanisms are not easy-to-use, and require the user to take numerous steps to opt out of IBA from all Third Parties active on the website.
For example, some tools provide direct opt-outs for some but not all Third Parties, and direct the user to visit individual Third Parties’ websites for additional opt-outs. This often requires the user to search each individual Third Party site in order to locate the Third Party’s own Opt-Out Mechanism.
First Parties are advised that the DAAC WebChoices Tool currently provides direct opt-outs for over 136 different Third Party companies. By linking to this tool, a user may, in one step, opt out of interest-based ads from all of these companies. If all Third Parties on a given First Party’s website can be found on the DAAC WebChoices Tool, we recommend using this tool, as it allows for an efficient, one-step means for users to opt out.