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2021 NAI Annual Report: Members Extend Commitment to Robust Industry Standards Despite Evolving Regulatory Landscape

The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) 2021 Annual Report gives us a chance to look back on the past year and reflect on the forces that are shaping the digital advertising industry. Those include an increasing emphasis on privacy, states passing their own privacy laws, robust legislative activity on a federal level, and the Federal Trade Commission exploring rulemaking in this field.

The NAI endeavors to promote privacy, trust, and accountability in digital advertising. This mission would be impossible without the dedicated efforts of our member companies, who agree to go above and beyond legal requirements to understand and address prevailing privacy concerns.

This report is based on findings from 86 member companies who were reviewed during the year by NAI staff for compliance with the NAI Code of Conduct [LINK]. The five companies that were new to the NAI in 2021 underwent an equally stringent review as part of their membership application process and will join the annual review program in 2022. Member companies demonstrated that they remain vigorously committed to the NAI’s self-regulatory framework and welcomed feedback and best-practice suggestions from NAI staff.

Last year the digital advertising industry continued to face a shift in addressability methods, resulting from changes in browsers and operating systems, leading the NAI to create a new consumer choice mechanism to address new NAI requirements as well as upcoming state legislative requirements. Despite those challenges, NAI staff were reassured to find that nearly all evaluated member companies continued their strong record of compliance with the Code.

The report also details other efforts from the NAI over the past year, including our participation in industry efforts to coalesce the digital advertising industry around technical standards and privacy-protective regulatory measures that meet or surpass emerging legal requirements, efforts to improve standards for CTV streaming devices and shared addressability solutions, and our expanding public policy activity.

On the public policy front, our aims were to promote a uniform national consumer privacy law to provide consistent protections for consumers and streamlined compliance for companies; engage with state policymakers to steer the development of independent state laws; and help shape the and CPRA implementing regulations. We also worked with member companies and other stakeholders to guide the industry’s implementation of new policies and practices in response to emerging state legal requirements.

The NAI reached our goals by holding cross-industry and cross-trade dialogues to help develop a new privacy framework and technical standards for digital advertising; launching the NAI’s email-based Audience-Matched Advertising Opt-Out Mechanism; commencing enforcement of additional notice requirements for the collection of Precise Location Information; and further expanding our public policy efforts, advocacy, and outreach on a state and federal level.

The report demonstrates the role of the NAI’s Code and self-regulatory process in promoting consumer privacy in the digital advertising industry, particularly as the digital media ecosystem faces change through technology and legislation. The NAI will continue to update its Code and guidance to keep pace with technological developments and changing norms, and maintain a high standard of consumer protections that advance privacy, trust, and accountability in the digital advertising ecosystem.

We thank all of our member companies for their hard work and dedication to compliance with the NAI Code, even as the digital advertising ecosystem grows more complex and challenging.

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