Consumers Find Behavioral Advertising Choices Compelling with TRUSTe TRUSTed Ads Privacy Platform

TRUSTe and Publishers Clearing House Pilot Program Reveal Data that Demonstrates Education and Trust Key for Building Consumer Confidence with Online Behavioral Advertising

Full results from the pilot are available here.

San Francisco, Calif. – November 16, 2010 - TRUSTe, the leading privacy trustmark and provider of privacy solutions, today announced the results of a six-month long behavioral advertising notice and choice pilot program conducted with Publishers Clearing House (PCH). As part of the pilot, millions of consumers visiting the PCHlotto.com website were shown a TRUSTe branded icon and the words “Interest Based Ads” adjacent to an online advertisement. By clicking on the icon, consumers were able to access a “widget” that presented information about interest-based ads and ad networks; and from there could choose to change their preferences or opt-out of online behavioral advertising (OBA) on the site.

Participating in this pilot with TRUSTe gave PCH another opportunity to convey our ongoing commitment to customers’ privacy, as well as a seamless solution to increase their understanding – both pros and cons – about behavioral advertising and tracking,” said Sal Tripi, Senior Director of Operations and Compliance at Publishers Clearing House. “This pilot has helped us stay ahead of the game and reassure our visitors about the integrity of our site. As the leader in online privacy, TRUSTe was the logical partner for us to provide an OBA privacy solution and give our customers peace of mind about this new advertising path."

Findings from the TRUSTe and PCH pilot program revealed that education, notice and choice are the best tools for building consumer trust with OBA. Further, the results indicate that consumers have a surprisingly high comfort level for OBA when they are well-informed about how it works, and that only a very miniscule number will choose to opt-out. More than half of the respondents felt that the intuitive, clickable icon was helpful in making an informed decision by providing immediate information about behavioral advertising and their privacy choices. Other significant findings of the pilot included:

  • click-thru rate to the OBA icon was 2.5 times higher than click-thru rate to the Privacy Policy, reflecting more placements on the website page;
  • just over 10 percent of visitors to the OBA widget took the step to review their preferences;
  • very few widget visitors (only 1.0 percent) chose to opt out of all advertising networks, and even fewer (0.3 percent) chose to make granular changes to their preferences; and
  • more than 40 percent consistently chose to maintain existing preference settings.

"The pilot test data shows that consumers want to learn more about behavioral advertising but that only a small percentage, once informed, will change their preferences,” said Fran Maier, President of TRUSTe. “This low rate of preference change indicates that an effective ad notice may actually increase trust without any negative impact on advertising revenues. As online behavioral advertising continues its growth trajectory, TRUSTe will be there – extending trust between consumers and businesses through transparency, accountability and choice – the privacy traffic signals to move forward in an online world."

Mike Zaneis, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at IAB said, “With 80 percent of ad campaigns involving some tracking, the continued growth and evolution of personalized targeting is inevitable. By initiating this research and providing an important service offering to the industry, TRUSTe facilitates education and understanding about behavioral advertising, while providing a choice to opt-out – giving power back to the consumer. This pilot is an excellent representation of what can happen when consumers have accurate data at their fingertips and can make their own choices. And that choice clearly is to continue to receive relevant advertising."

Over a six-month period, the TRUSTe and PCH pilot collected actual user data – from click-through rates to feedback – on consumer engagement with the OBA icon, which was strategically positioned next to interest-based advertisements on the PCHlotto site. The icon was displayed to an estimated 20 million consumers and was accessed over 55,000 times and is now also being implemented on PCHgames.com. The icon is still in place on the PCH website and can be accessed at http://www.pchlotto.com.

According to Magnaglobal, online advertising revenue is expected to reach $37.3 billion by the end of 2010, up 12.3 percent from 2009, and double-digit growth is expected to continue through 2015. As the market surges, companies need to be transparent about the collection of information on their sites. Enhanced notice links such as the one used in the TRUSTe and PCH pilot are a way of clearly communicating data use practices and privacy policies and enabling consumer choices to be easily and immediately implemented.

About TRUSTed Ads

The TRUSTed Ads platform features an easy-to-use and intuitive interface offering:
  • a branded and customizable consumer landing experience;
  • easy-to-understand consumer educational material;
  • concise ad notification and opt-out choices;
  • metadata aggregation and deduplication;
  • simple tag implementation in ad servers, eliminating the need for advertisers to change ad tags, workflow, and ad serving;
  • lightweight html code for page-based notice;
  • detailed reporting and a consumer feedback mechanism.

Additionally, TRUSTed Ads gives agencies, advertisers, networks and publishers a turnkey solution to provide evidence of compliance with the industry’s well-received self-regulatory principles, as well as FTC guidelines.

TRUSTed Ads is currently being reviewed for certification for Approved Provider status by the Digital Advertising Alliance – the advertising industry coalition’s new governing body for ad privacy. As a function of working together, TRUSTe will also support use of the Advertising Option Icon, also known as the “forward i” for in-ad placements.

For more information about TRUSTed Ads, interested parties can go to www.truste.com/ads.

About TRUSTe
TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across web, mobile, cloud and advertising channels. Our cloud-based Data Privacy Management Platform delivers innovative technology products, including website monitoring and advertising compliance controls – along with privacy assessments and certifications. More than 5,000 companies worldwide, including Apple, Disney, eBay, Forbes, LinkedIn and Oracle rely on our DPM platform and globally recognized Certified Privacy Seal to protect/enhance their brand, drive user engagement and minimise compliance risk. For more information, please http://www.truste.com.

About Publishers Clearing House
Publishers Clearing House is one of the largest and most successful direct marketing companies in the world. Founded in 1953 as a magazine circulation agency selling discounted subscriptions by direct mail, its business has broadened since 1985 to include a wide variety of merchandise that now accounts for well over half of the company’s sales. The name “Publishers Clearing House” is almost synonymous with the sweepstakes launched in 1967 to draw attention to the magazine deals in company mailings. The company launched its website http://www.pch.com in 1999, providing online means to enter the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, additional prize winning opportunities and product offerings.