Five things to look out for in digital media public policy in 2011

2011 will see our ever-growing appetite for all things digital continue to change and evolve the marketing landscape. As technology keeps pace to meet consumer demand, so the spotlight continues to shine brightly on regulatory and public policy issues, notably privacy. On one front 2011 will be a year of ‘delivery’. But – as ever with this sector – the New Year will introduce further challenges to digital advertising business models.

There are five things to keep a careful eye on. In the ‘delivery’ in-tray there are two developments:

– Across Europe, the digital advertising industry will roll out a self-regulatory Framework for behavioural advertising. This will build upon IAB UK’s Good Practice Principles and provide greater transparency and control for consumers, such as providing notice in or besides the advertisement itself and with a direct link to a pan-EU control tool where data preferences can be managed. Watch this space!

– From 1 March, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will regulate ‘non paid-for’ marketing communications on web sites and in third party space under a marketer’s control, such as on social networking sites. All ‘paid-for’ digital advertising (search, display, mobile) is already within the ASA’s remit. You can find out more about this here. The ASA will be launching a campaign very soon to make consumers and businesses aware of the extended remit.

In the ‘challenges’ box there are three things to prepare for:

– On 25 May, it is expected that the revised ePrivacy Directive will come into force in the UK. The new Directive (part of a larger EU communications package) will amend the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 and introduces ‘consent’ for locally stored software, such as cookies. The new UK law will cover all cookie use (not just for behavioural advertising) and the UK Government has expressed a preference to implement a system of “informed consent via web browser settings”. Here you can see the IAB’s response to the UK Government’s consultation on this.

– In mid-2011, the European Commission is expected to announce legislative proposals to amend the EU Data Protection Directive. Its objectives are to harmonize data protection law across the EU whilst updating it to allow for new technologies and digital practices. The European Commission has already published its areas of focus – such as “clarifying and strengthening the rules on consent” and promoting international co-operation – and these are subject to public consultation by mid-January.

– Marketing to children will remain high on the UK political agenda, following the establishment of the Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Childhood and Families last summer. Just before Christmas the Government announced another review of the ‘commercialisation and sexualisation’ of childhood and this is expected to report to Ministers in March and be published in May. The review is broader than just marketing but it is likely that some digital marketing techniques used by children will come under scrutiny.

I’ll be providing further information on all five of these issues here on this blog throughout 2011. Happy New Year!

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