Facebook (Sort Of) Agrees to Display AdChoices Icon on Targeted Ads



adchoicesFacebook has agreed to start displaying the famous, blue AdChoices triangle on all ads that use behavioral targeting — with one modification. According to AdAge, the icon will only pop up when a user mouses over the X in the top corner of the ad. (It also only applies to ads served through the FBX ad exchange.)

Facebook says this is the way their users expect to uncover ad information and they’re right to some extent. Currently, that little x in the corner of an ad leads to three options: hide this ad, hide all ads from this company, or about this ad. If you choose “about this ad,” you’re whisked away to the home page for that ad network. From there, you can decide to opt out. Unless it’s a Facebook ad. When I clicked through on that link there was no opt-out option that I could see.

All of that may be the norm for Facebook, but the point of using the icon is to standardize the process so it’s easy for consumers. Add in the FTC’s guideline which says the site must post a “clear and prominent notice” and it sounds like Facebook wants to eat their cake and their pie.

This whole idea of complying somewhat feels like Facebook’s way of bowing to the pressure without totally giving in. They’re so important, they don’t have to follow the rules. AdAge says the lack of transparency has been a problem for some agencies who have worked hard to make all of their ads compliant.

Genie Barton of the Advertising Self Regulatory Council and Council of Better Business Bureaus says that Facebook’s version of compliance is a step in the right direction, especially given the short lead time for implementation. I suppose this is true. It’s easier to ad the AdChoices icon to the drop-down that currently exists when you mouse over than redesign every ad to show the icon up front.

The question is, as the FTC cracks down harder on behavioral targeted, will Facebook’s hidden effort be enough?

The AdChoices people would like to remind you that the logo only appears on internet-based advertising. You will not see the logo on “print ads (not clickable yet), tattoos (so far), African safaris, and other places without online advertising.” Two points for a sense of humor, I like that in a regulatory agency.