Google Responds to FTC’s Self-Regulatory Principles

When concerns over data collection and behavioral advertising arise, it seems that the glass half empty people are the loudest. But in a recent response to the FTC’s Self-Regulatory Principles, Google has pointed out the impact that online advertising has had on the economy.

Google highlighted that in 2007, they paid out $4.5 billion to publishers utilizing the Adsense network. These monies either supplements or provides full-time income to many site owners including bloggers. They pointed out that many people have opportunities that just weren’t available 10 years ago.

Additionally, the revenue that Google generates enables them to provide services for free to the general public.

Google wrote that these innovations only occur within a self-regulatory framework:

“To be effective and credible, however, self-regulation must have as its foundation agreed-upon fair information practices and must be informed by ongoing dialog with and input from consumer advocates, the Commission, and other stakeholders. The FTC staff’s draft self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising provides an excellent foundation for developing the most effective consumer protection, while maintaining an online environment in which innovation and competition can thrive.”

But Google is careful to distinguish its advertising from being labeled “behavioral advertising.”

“As currently drafted, the proposed principles would apply to contextual advertising, which we define as advertising that is provided in response to the current activities of a user. For example, our AdWords program allows us to provide ads on in response to search queries entered by our users. In addition, our AdSense product allows us to provide ads to visitors to the web sites of third-party publisher partners based on the content of pages visited. In essence, then, our contextual advertising allows for the delivery of advertisements based on search queries or our analysis of the content of a web page being viewed. We believe that this type of advertising should not be considered behavioral advertising, even if such analysis takes into consideration previous search queries.”

These comments also come in the wake of news from Europe of a policy adopted by the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, which would reduce data collection by search engines to just 6 months. Such a regulation could greatly impact the ability of search engines to provide relevant ads, which could have a ripple effect on the greater revenue streams generated by their ad networks.

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