This Campaign Season, BBB National Programs’ Digital Advertising Accountability Program is Helping Voters Understand the Origins of Online Political Ads

In today’s political environment, many American voters have grown wary about the political content they encounter online. Legislators and social media platforms have struggled with 21st century challenges associated with political content in our digital lives. Now, to partially address these issues, BBB National Programs’ Digital Advertising Accountability Program (DAAP) will be monitoring online content to ensure that advertisers follow new best practices for online political advertising.

At the start of the year, BBB National Programs’ DAAP, known for its work in the digital privacy space, began monitoring online sources to ensure that online political advertisements — regardless of position or party affiliation — comply with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Political Advertising Principles.

“With the new BBB National Programs political advertising program, we are taking steps to empower voters and address the issue of transparency as it applies to political advertising. Our new program is designed to monitor and enforce DAA’s industry best practices for political advertising. Our program is designed to help voters better recognize what entity is paying for the political advertisements they are viewing,” said BBB National Programs Chief Executive Officer, Eric D. Reicin.

The DAA Principles call for providing users with notice about the origin of advertising supporting the election or defeat of political candidates. Political advertisers work with their advertising tech partners to provide the DAA’s Political Ads Icon  — or an equivalently prominent notice marking the advertisement as political — in or around their online political advertisements. These notices take users to a disclosure that gives voters information about who paid for the advertisement, including the name of the political advertiser, the contact information for that entity, and a link to a searchable database of political advertisement contributions and expenditures.

Using sophisticated monitoring technology, a team of BBB National Programs DAAP professionals review online sources for political advertising and evaluate the advertisements it finds against the DAA Political Advertising Principles. Political advertisements that seem to violate the Principles will be reported on a publicly available forum, launching next month. Where it identifies apparent non-compliance, the BBB National Programs DAAP will also, in its discretion, contact the advertiser to address the issue and, where appropriate, recommend changes to the advertiser’s practices.

Further, if a member of the general public identifies a possible violation, they are invited to report it to DAAP.

To commemorate the launch of the program, the DAAP has also produced a high-level summary of its initial observations of 2020 political ads, located here.

BBB National Programs is where companies, industry experts and trade associations work together within a self-regulatory environment to address issues of national and global importance, and to foster industry best practices in truth-in-advertising, child-directed marketing, data privacy, and dispute resolution.

Since its creation, the BBB National Programs’ DAAP has issued more than 100 actions enforcing consumer privacy in digital advertising and has built a reputation for fairness. Where companies have refused to comply, the program has made government referrals to relevant regulatory enforcement agencies. This new compliance initiative aims to replicate the success of the self-regulatory privacy programs in the evolving area of online political advertising.

To learn more about the BBB National Programs DAAP, the DAA Political Advertising Principles, and to reach out proactively about compliance, please contact accountability@bbbnp.org.

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