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IAB And NAI Release CLEAR Ad Notice Tech Specs

Advancing the self-regulatory efforts of the digital advertising and marketing industry, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) have released the CLEAR (Control Links for Education and Advertising Responsibly) Ad Notice Technical Specifications, a set of common technical standards enabling enhanced notice in online ads. These technical specifications will allow advertisers and ad networks to begin offering a clickable icon in or near online ads that directs users to additional information about online behavioral advertising and choices about such ads.

The icon-based approach to enhanced consumer notice was outlined in the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, which were released in July 2009 by a coalition of associations—American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Council for Better Business Bureaus (BBB).

“Transparency and notice are critical to creating a safe and enjoyable consumer experience,” said Mike Zaneis, VP, Public Policy of the IAB.

“These specifications will allow third-party ad servers to seamlessly integrate the icon so that consumers have access to more information when they are being served an ad based on their interests and behaviors.”

The CLEAR Ad Notice Technical Specifications detail how third-party media companies, such as advertising networks, can provide enhanced notice to consumers through an industry-standard set of metadata tags that are delivered along with behaviorally targeted advertisements. 

Those metadata tags include information on which organization(s) served the ad, where to find their advertising policies and how to opt-out of such targeting in the future.

“The metadata infrastructure proposed in this specification provides a sound technical foundation for informative notice about behavioral advertising, while giving publishers, advertisers and ad networks the flexibility to adopt innovative approaches to consumer disclosure,” said Charles Curran, executive director of the NAI. 

“We look forward to working with the IAB and other leading industry associations to support implementation of enhanced notice to consumers.”

The CLEAR Ad Notice Technical Specifications were developed to:


  • Meet the third-party requirements set forth in July 2009 as part of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising released in July 2009 by the cross-industry Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising Working Group

  • Provide enough flexibility for future expansion as the online advertising industry matures

  • Be open such that publishers, browser developers, tool developers or any other party can easily take advantage of the information presented to the user and find new ways to communicate this information.


    The CLEAR Ad Notice Technical Specifications can be found at: www.iab.net/clear.

    It is important to note that these technical specifications are intended for third-party media companies.  There are separate requirements set forth in the Self-Regulatory Principles concerning first-party notice on publishers’ own websites, such as an independent link in the footer of a web page (e.g. “About Our Ads”).  Publishers should refer to the Principles document for specific first-party guidance. 

    To view that document, visit www.iab.net/behavioral-advertisingprinciples.
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