Self-regulatory success story: how AdChoices program helps marketing

Most of you have probably seen the AdChoices icon, the blue triangle seen near ads displayed on your screen – but do you know what it represents?

The icon is an identifier of the AdChoices program that was developed to educate consumers about interest-based advertising (IBA) or online behavioural advertising. It provides mechanisms for consumers to know when IBA is occurring and the ability to control whether or not they choose to permit the collection and use of their browsing data for IBA purposes.

Why AdChoices?
In a survey conducted by CMA in partnership with BrandSpark earlier this year, we learned that consumers are more comfortable with marketers collecting their browsing data to serve up interest-based ads when they know the organization participates in the Canadian marketing community’s Ad Choices program. The research also confirms that brands gain a significant trust dividend by participating in a self-regulatory program aimed at providing consumers with transparency and choice about data collection for online advertising.

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How does AdChoices help marketers?
The AdChoices program, introduced in 2013 by the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada (DAAC) - a consortium of the leading national advertising and marketing associations including CMA – continues to be a critical tool of protection for marketers that conduct IBA. Self-regulation creates rules for companies and protects consumers while limiting the need for the government to introduce legislation and this is an important consideration for marketers that play in this space.

Does the program have credibility?
With IBA gaining a great deal of attention this year from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), in the case of Bell’s Relevant ads program and the research paper released in June, the AdChoices program is more relevant than ever. The privacy commissioner has indicated that he is pleased to see this program operating in Canada.

A major step forward for the program was the recent release of the first compliance report. Entitled AdChoices Accountability Program: 2015 Compliance Reportand released by Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), the program’s accountability arm, the report highlights how companies participating in the DAAC’s AdChoices program for online interest-based advertising (IBA) have implemented the program’s principles throughout 2015. See report summary.

Wally Hill, CMA’s VP Government & Consumer Affairs and the Chair of the DAAC’s Board of Directors, stated that, “The release of this report is a major step forward for the program and its 67 current companies and brands that participate in the program. We’ve come a long way, and the program continues to grow and mature”.

More information


AdChoices website

Webinar: OPC advises marketers on interest-based advertising (available to CMA members only)

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