Quantcast expands reach of industry opt-out icon

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Audience-measurement company Quantcast Corp. will enable small- and medium-sized online publishers to adopt the Digital Advertising Alliance's (DAA) Advertising Option icon for free this month, the company said July 6. The partnership will expand the reach of the trade group's self-regulation program to a majority of Quantcast's 25 million-plus publisher customers.

DAA managing director Peter Kosmala said the partnership is part of an effort to make the online behavioral advertising (OBA) opt-out icon “as ubiquitous and consumer facing as possible.”

Any online publisher who uses Quantcast's audience-measurement tool and garners less than $15 million in annual revenue with less than $2 million coming from OBA is eligible to use the Advertising Option icon for free. The DAA waives the program's $5,000 annual certification fee for any publisher receiving less than $2 million in OBA revenue. The $15 million revenue ceiling was implemented by Quantcast to delineate small- and medium-sized publishers.

Because blogging platform WordPress uses Quantcast's measurement solution as a member of the Quantified Publisher program, the Advertising Option icon will be available to all applicable WordPress publishers. WordPress hosts roughly 24 million sites, according to the company. Kosmala said WordPress' indirect involvement helps to extend the program's reach.

“These are not massive audiences on a per-site basis, per se, but you group them together and it's certainly a significant segment,” Kosmala said. “To be clear, everyone that deploys this icon will, in fact, sign directly with the DAA even though these are all being deployed through Quantcast. So even if there are networks [of publishers] within networks, all of those folks will be pointing back to the DAA in terms of their obligation to the framework and their relationship to us as bound or licensed icon users.”

Quantcast began offering the Advertising Option icon to advertisers in June, but Michael Blum, general counsel at Quantcast, said publishers need more of a push to participate in the self-regulatory program.

“While a lot of the ad agencies are encouraging their advertisers to use the icon in advertisements, we didn't really see the same thing on the publisher side. There's no parallel relationship,” said Blum. “But because of the measurements tool, we have a relationship with millions of publishers and we thought we could be a great vehicle for helping [to] advance this cause.”

The DAA is planning a consumer outreach campaign for the fall that aims to raise awareness of the self-regulation program. In May, Chrysler Group, one of the program's participating companies, publicized its involvement as a way to raise awareness and get ahead of any government regulation, Susan Thomson, head of media at Chrysler Group, said via email.

A number of online privacy bills have been introduced during this session of Congress, including the Do Not Track Online Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), which calls for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create a universal Do Not Track Mechanism.

David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in May that the Commission disapproved of “the progress of self-regulation,” but it is “our hope that the industry will implement a simple, effective and enforceable Do Not Track mechanism.”

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