Digital Advertising Accountability Program
Political Advertising Transparency Project Blog
The AdChoices Icon and the Political Ads Icon: This campaign season, look out for the blue and purple triangles
When you go online, you enter a world powered by advertising. Sometimes you might notice ads following you around from website to website or across your different mobile apps. Whether you’re shopping for new sports equipment, clothing, or kitchenware, you’ll often see ads for your favorite products appear across the websites you visit during your session. This is called interest-based advertising, also known as targeted or tailored advertising. And now that it’s the 2020 campaign season, your digital advertising experience has probably changed to include ads extolling or condemning certain candidates for office. This phenomenon is known as express advocacy political advertising.
Know the icons, know the best practices
As you encounter ads across the web, you might notice little triangles embedded inside them. If you’re a user, it’s important to know what these icons represent in order to better understand your Internet experience and how your data is being used. And if you work for an adtech company or a political campaign, you should be aware about how you can use these icons to meet best practices for ad transparency known as the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Self-Regulatory Principles.
What is the AdChoices Icon?
The DAA’s AdChoices icon signals to consumers that the ad they are seeing is interest-based, or tailored to their browsing or app usage history.
If a user clicks or taps on the icon, they are often taken to a notice that i) describes why the ad was served to them and ii) gives them the opportunity to opt-out. If you’re a third-party adtech company, you want to make sure that the ads you serve on behalf of an advertiser contain this AdChoices Icon or a similar link. Or, for providers of self-service ad solutions, make sure you enable your advertisers to apply the icon themselves, and give them clear guidance about when and how to do so. For more about consumer privacy, AdChoices, and the DAAP’s enforcement work, you can visit the following links:
What is the Political Ads Icon?
The DAA’s Political Ads icon, launched in 2018, signals to users that an ad is political. Like the AdChoices Icon, it serves as a link for users to learn more about the particular political ad they are viewing.
Once a user clicks or taps on this icon, they should arrive at a place where they can learn about the name of the political advertiser for the ad, the advertiser’s contact information, the main officers for the political advertiser, and a government database to search for political campaigns. Depending on the advertiser and the state or federal laws involved, other disclosures may appear here, too.
Campaigns and adtech companies: know your obligations
This campaign season, the Internet is going to be flooded with political ads, many of which will also be targeted. To be compliant with industry best practices, ads that push for the election or defeat of particular candidates for office should contain the Political Ads Icon . Additionally, political ads that are also targeted to a particular user’s interests should go one step further. These ads should include the Political Ads icon and a political ads notice, just like regular political ads. However, they should also include an interest-based advertising disclosure alongside the political one. For an example of how this might look, readers can reference the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Political Ad Icon & Ad Marker Creative Guidelines, an excerpt from which follows.
If you’re browsing the web and you see these icons, take some time to interact with them to learn about why these ads appeared and where they came from. If you’re running a campaign, political action committee, or other type of political organization that is pushing out digital ads in support of or against a particular candidate for office, make sure to speak to your adtech vendor about providing these icons. And if you’re an adtech company, be sure to work with your publisher partners to make sure that end users see the appropriate icons.
Want to learn more? Reach out to the Accountability Program
If you think your company or campaign might have obligations under the Principles, feel free to reach out to the Digital Advertising Accountability Program for a confidential consultation. And if you’re a voter who sees a political ad or targeted ad without these icons, feel free to file a complaint.