To help you understand behavioral advertising in more depth, below is a list of frequently asked questions around the subject; 

What Is Online Behavioral Advertising?

Online behavioral advertising is a way of using anonymous information about web browsing activity to group Internet-enabled devices into interest groups and serve advertisements based upon those interests.

Behavioral advertising differs from other forms of advertising on the internet such as contextual advertising, which is provided in response to your current, session-based activities (including search queries or websites visited).

How Does Behavioral Advertising Work?

At a basic level, information about an internet-enabled devices (such as a computer, mobile telephone, or notepad) online activity, together with information about thousands of other browsing activities of other devices, is collected and segmented into general groups, such as cars, finance, and travel.

There are different ways to provide behavioral advertising. Advertisers and websites will tailor ads for groups of Internet-enabled devices with the same interest and the cookie installed in the device to enable relevant display advertising to be delivered to the device.

Exactly What Data Is Used In Behavioral Advertising?

Typically, examples of data that are used to inform behavioral targeting categories include websites visited, hyperlinks clicked on, and search terms. Behavioral advertising can vary in terms of what information is used and how.

Traditional advertising networks, for example, collect and use information when you visit one or a number of websites participating in that particular network.

What Are The Benefits Of Behavioral Advertising?

Online display advertising also funds much of the free material that is available on the web. More targeted advertising allows web publishers to continue to provide free content and make that advertising more relevant to their users.

It also allows advertisers to reach an audience that is most likely to be interested in their products, generating revenue to help fund future innovations and services on the internet.

You receive online display advertising that is relevant to you and your interests. For example, if you’re interested in gardening and visit gardening websites, you may – in the same or a later online session – receive advertising for special offers on lawnmowers.

More targeted advertising is beneficial as you’ll receive more relevant ads as well as access to free quality content, services, and applications.

Is My Privacy Under Threat?

Signatories to the Australian Best Practices Guideline have agreed not to combine personal information with data collected for targeting purposes without express consent from users. All providers of this sort of service have to comply with applicable laws.

In most cases, the information used for targeting ads is not personal, in that you, the user, cannot be identified. Where personal information (like registration data) is used, you should already have given your consent for its use when you first provided your information to that organization. 

You can check how an organization handles your personal information at any time by viewing its privacy policy. You always have a choice as to whether to benefit from more relevant advertising from Signatories to the Australian Best Practices Guideline or not.

What Is ‘Personal Information And Will It Be Used For Online Behavioral Advertising

Signatories to the Australian Best Practice Guidelines have agreed not to combine personal information with data collected for targeting purposes without express consent from users.

Personal information is data that by itself, or in conjunction with other data held by a particular company, can be used to reasonably ascertain that the activities being conducted are being carried out by you. 

Obvious examples include your name, address, or email address but can also include attitudes and preferences.

Most providers do not use personal information for behavioral advertising. However, if a provider does use this information about you, then you will have access to that provider’s privacy policy on their website and your information must be handled in accordance with Australian privacy law. 

I Don’t Want This Type Of Advertising, What Can I Do?

For further information please visit our opt-out help page. It is important to remember that this does not mean that you will no longer receive advertising when you are using the internet. It just means that the advertising you see displayed on websites will not be customized to you and your interests and may be less relevant to you.

Who Do I Contact If I Have A Complaint About Behavioral Advertising?

Go to our complaints section if you have a complaint about the Australian Best Practices Guidelines or specifically about one of the businesses that have signed up to the Principles,

Will I See More Advertising Due To Online Behavioral Advertising?

No. It simply means that the advertising you see on some websites will be more relevant to you and your interests.

Will My Online Experience Be Disrupted By Online Behavioral Advertising?

No. Behavioral advertising simply aims to make display advertising more relevant to you. You will not see or experience any difference when online

Will Online Behavioral Advertising Be Directed At Children?

The Australian Best Practice Guideline specifies that no company engaged in online behavioral advertising (that has agreed to abide by the Principles) shall create or sell a segment intended for the sole purpose of behaviourally targeting children they know to be under the age of 13 years.

How Is The Best Practice Guideline Relevant To Me And What Is It?

The principles specify that organizations should provide notice of their online behavioral advertising practices to consumers and give consumers the ability to opt-out of receiving online behaviourally targeted advertising, keep online behavioral advertising data safe, carefully and appropriately handle online behavioral advertising that relates to sensitive segmentation and establish effective accountability and complaint handling mechanism.

The industry is committed to monitoring the operation and effectiveness of these Principles to ensure they keep up with changing technology and evolving commercial practices.

The Australian Best Practice Guideline is a guideline for businesses collecting and using online information for behavioral advertising.

The Australian Best Practice Guideline is based on seven Principles developed to better foster transparency, knowledge, and choice for consumers and apply consumer-friendly standards to online behavioral advertising. If you have any feedback let us know by email.

In Terms Of Compliance, How Strict Are Businesses Going To Be With These Principles?

They will self-certify their compliance, which will also and be monitored independently based on complaints received. Companies that sign up and commit to the Principles have six months to comply or face the agreed consequences in the contract. 

What About Potentially Sensitive Information?

Signatories have committed to exercising careful judgment when dealing with these interest segments according to the Australian Best Practice Guideline. Signatories to the Australian Best Practice Guideline recognize that some interest segments are sensitive in certain contexts.

Is My Data Protected Sufficiently?

In line with data protection law, you need to give your explicit consent for anyone to use sensitive personal data about you.

The Opt-out Tool reports information provided by advertisers about whether online behavioral advertising is occurring using “active” cookies present in your browser.

It does not delete individual cookies nor does it necessarily replace other cookies delivered by advertisers, such as those that are used for ad reporting or mere ad-serving purposes.

The Opt-out Tool also allows you to replace an advertiser’s “active” behavioral advertising cookie(s) on your browser with a general opt-out cookie.

What Are Cookies And How Are They Used?

A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers downloaded onto your computer when you access certain websites. Cookies allow a website to recognize a user’s preferences as previously chosen by the user when they return to a site. Cookies are filed in the memory of your browser and each one typically contains:

  • The name of the server the cookie was sent from
  • The lifetime of the cookie
  • A value – usually a randomly generated unique number
  • The website server which sends the cookie uses this number to recognize the browser that you are using when you return to a site or browse from page to page. 

A cookie itself does not contain or collect information. However, when it is read by a server in conjunction with a web browser it can help a website deliver a more user-friendly service – for example, remembering previous purchases or account details.

Only the server that sent a cookie can read, and therefore use, that cookie. Cookies are central to the customization of the internet and online behavioral advertising usually works using cookies.

Can I Disable A Cookie?

Yes. You can choose to disable all cookies but this could significantly affect your web browsing experience if you use services that rely on cookies.

Some browsers will allow you to block just third-party cookies (this is a cookie placed on your browser by a third party for example, an advertising network, other than that particular website owner) or will allow the use of settings to block only cookies that do not meet your privacy preferences.

Visit our top tips to find out more about managing your web browser privacy settings.

If I Use A Different PC At Work, Will I Have To Opt Out Again?

Yes. You will need to follow the same process on every computer and different web browser (eg Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari) that you use to fully decline behavioral advertising from that particular provider.

If you choose to decline behavioral advertising from a specific company, it only applies to that particular company’s use of behavioral data on the internet web browser on the computer or device you are using.

It will therefore affect other people who use that web browser as well. For more information about opting out please visit our opt-out help page

Am I Prevented From Receiving Spam, Pop-Ups Or Junk Mail By Disallowing Behavioral Targeting?

No. It does not affect or disallow any particular type of advertising e.g. email or pop-ups. Declining behavioral advertising only means that you will not receive more display advertising customized in this way.

For Further Information, Who Do I Contact?

If you need any more information on online behavioral advertising email IAB’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at [email protected].

Can I Change My Mind?

You can simply reverse the process if you change your mind at any point in the future.You have the option to choose individual sites or select all to change your preferences back to their original status.

How Does The Opt-Out Tool Work?

It stores your choices and once saved, can only be reconfigured by you and your account. Messages are sent to the relevant sites that you have unselected which block them from sending you any unwanted advertisements. 

Dale Williams
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