The third-party ecosystem faces a unique challenge: we have to shape consumer perception of our industry while having very little direct interaction with consumers. To achieve this goal, Undertone has assumed a proactive role in both proving the value of the industry and educating consumers on our practices.
Last week Undertone began running geo-targeted AMBER Alert impressions. Using a feed from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Undertone is able to display, within the ad creative, information such as who the missing child is, an image of the child, where they were last seen, and any potential suspects. (An example, recently run by Undertone, is below.) Our targeting capabilities then allow us to geo-target these impressions to the area where the child was last seen, increasing the likelihood that someone will contact law enforcement with relevant information. The AMBER Alert initiative, spearheaded by ValueClick and 24/7 Media, acknowledges that a significant sect of consumers—who can aid in such emergency events—no longer consume media primarily through traditional mediums such as TV, so must be reached through other channels, such as Internet advertising.
The AMBER Alert initiative is one way Undertone is showing the value of the third-party ecosystem. However, industry efforts must also focus on consumer education regarding OBA and privacy. Every year Undertone donates millions of impressions to the Network Advertising Initiative’s (NAI) consumer education efforts. These campaigns provide consumers with practical information about OBA, allowing them to make informed choices about their online privacy and feel more confident in the security of their online experience. Undertone also participates in the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) regulatory program, displaying the OBA icon on all ad impressions where OBA data collection or use is taking place, giving the consumer notice and choice regarding OBA.
The value of the third-party ecosystem is simple: it is these companies that enable publishers to produce and distribute content by providing them a viable revenue model, in turn allowing consumers to enjoy the “free Internet.” Unfortunately, this value proposition is often not readily apparent to consumers, who don’t actively interact with third parties. It falls on industry to prove ourselves. To explain our practices and to demonstrate the social value we can bring to the table. It’s time we realize that we can do well by doing good.