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Issue brief - Online Behavioural Advertising


Comprehensive standards for Online Behavioural AdvertisingOBA_BPR

The EASA Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising, released on 14 April 2011, provides for a pan-european, industry-wide self-regulatory standard for online behavioural advertising (OBA), which will ensure consumer privacy protection across Europe.

In practical terms, the Best Practice Recommendation promotes the identification of OBA data collection and use practices on ads and websites via a uniform European-wide icon, which clicks through to a simple mechanism that provides consumers with full transparency and control, allowing them to exercise their online choices. 


When clicked on, the icon allows internet users to find out more about which companies are involved in serving the ad and also directs them to a European-wide website ( The website provides information about OBA and a simple means for consumers, in their national language, to exercise their choice about whether they want to receive OBA ads. Consumers  that wish to file a complaint about a particular practice of OBA will be able to do so via the established, independent advertising self-regulatory organisation in their home country

The EASA Best Practice Recommendation incorporates and complements IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Europe’s self-regulatory Framework for OBA that applies across the EU and EEA, which was also released on 14 April. EASA has worked with IAB Europe to deliver a EASA’s Best Practice Recommendation applies an industry-wide scope,that coverings all parts of the advertising industry.

The recommendation has pan-industry support from ad networks, advertisers, agencies, media (including the digital interactive media) and EASA self-regulatory organisations. With the adoption of the Best Practice Recommendation, national advertising self-regulatory organisations are now committed to applying self-regulatory standards to OBA, handling complaints thereon, and introducing the principles of the recommendation into their Codes.

1right Download the Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising [Pdf, 1394Kb]




Online Behavioural Advertising, a practice that is based on a user's internet browsing activity with a specific device and allows brands to deliver ads that reflect the user's interests, has been at the centre of a privacy debate for the past few years since MEPs, Commissioners and national governments argued over wording about "cookies" in the ePrivacy directive adopted in 2009.

EASA and its self-regulatory and industry members have acknowledged internet users’ privacy concerns regarding OBA and released the Best Practice Recommendation that provides for a European-wide icon to inform consumers about online behavioural advertising and details credible compliance and enforcement measures. On the one hand, the icon, will direct consumers to a website (in 24 European languages) explaining where the information comes from that is used to generate online behavioural advertising and provides the opportunity to turn off online behavioural advertising by some or all participating companies. On the other hand, it provides the possibility for consumers to use the trusted route via advertising self-regulatory organisations should they have any unresolved queries or complaints. 

Following a letter in September 2010 from European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes commending the advertising industry for its efforts thus far but highlighting the need for more transparency and user-friendliness, EASA and its members rose to the challenge and presented the final draft of the Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising on 16 December 2010 to the European Commission at a Round Table organised by DG InfSo.


Following the Round Table, EASA invited all interested parties including NGOs and the general public to comment on the final draft of the EASA Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising and took these comments into account when finalising the document, which was presented at a second Round Table in March 2011.

The final draft of the Best Practice Recommendation was approved by EASA's Board on 7 April 2011 and is now being rolled out via national industry associations and self-regulatory organisations.The YourOnlineChoices website is live in 24 European languages across 29 countries within the EU and EEA.