Online Ad Industry Groups Take Steps To Self-Police

The online ad industry dodged a bullet when the Federal Trade Commission proposed that internet marketers and sites self-police instead of imposing its own rules, as had been feared. Both the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Network Advertising Initiative are working on guidelines designed to obviate the need for government interference in online advertising.

I spoke with Mike Zaneis Friday, the IAB’s VP for public policy, the day after his 15-member working group held its sixth meeting to discuss the draft on privacy standards. He hopes to submit the guidelines to the FTC on Feb. 22. The IAB’s task force made up of representatives of AOL (NYSE: TWX), MSN, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) as well as ad networks and web publishers. It formed in September, before the FTC held its town hall meeting with advertisers at the end of October. Zaneis described a three-step process, starting with agreement on broad privacy principles followed by deciding how to apply those principles. The third part will cover possible compliance measures, which could range from audits and inspections to seal of approval similar to what’s offered by the Better Business Bureau.

Meanwhile. the NAI, an online marketing organization whose members also include AOL and Yahoo, is focusing strictly on revising its behavioral targeting standards, ClickZ reports. The group is aiming to complete and submit its revision to the FTC within the next six months. At the moment, the NAI is soliciting members’ views. It’s also considering expanding its ranks — Google (NSDQ: GOOG) recently asked to join and its membership is pending.

More from my interview with Zaneis after the jump.

A broader scope: The IAB specifically intended to concentrate on privacy as a broader issue than just on the practice of behavioral targeting, Zaneis said. “There’s several reasons for going beyond behavioral targeting. For one thing, what is behavioral targeting? It