Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) is a type of Internet advertising that is ever increasingly being used to target consumers in the Asia-Pacific region. OBA is also enjoying extraordinary growth throughout the Asia-Pacific region. However it is unlikely that consumers are aware that they are being targeted. Furthermore OBA is cross-border therefore is generally unregulated.
OBA works like this. You go into Google or some other search engine site to look up hotel accommodation in Singapore. A cookie is then sent on your computer that indicates you are interested in travel. When you next use your computer ads will appear for special flight and hotel deals in Asia-Pacific destinations. The more times you search the more cookies you attract and the ads you see on websites become more and more relevant to you.
In various Asia-Pacific countries there are codes that prescribe the expected behaviour of advertisers. The local Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) usually develops the codes. Additionally the local advertising self-regulatory organisation sets advertising standards will deal with complaints.
The European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA) has recently launched a new initiative to educate consumers about OBA and to inform them of their rights to complain. There is also the facility to turn advertisers off or on. The EDAA is an organisation with membership from the IABs, advertising self-regulatory organisations, media and advertisers.
The website is http://www.youronlinechoices.eu It is well worth a visit.
Could the initiative be replicated in Asia-Pacific? The short answer is yes. The most practical way is to have the various industry groups coordinate in in a self-regulatory manner as they have in Europe. Government regulation is a possibility but it would be most difficult involving international treaties and agreements. However Governments would have a key role in encouraging and supporting industry organisations to organise and operate such an initiative.