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Consumer Education Must Truly Educate

A blog post by Ryan Cliche, NAI’s Chief Operating Officer.  

In its Final Privacy Report issued in 2012, the FTC called upon all stakeholders to expand their efforts to educate consumers about commercial data privacy practices.  FTC staff pointed out that consumers need more education about various data practices so that they can make informed decisions. Specifically, the FTC called for the development of clear and accessible messages that consumers will see and understand.  

At NAI, we couldn’t agree more.  In 2012, we released a new consumer education page that was not merely a collection of education materials designed by various stakeholders, but a set of resources we created working with a professional design and communications team.  The goal was not to simply make materials available to users, but to distill down complex issues into “clear and accessible” content.  Indeed, we worked with a former member of the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education to develop the site because we shared the same vision – consumer education should truly educate. Our hope is that every consumer will be able to make informed choices about online advertising and data collection. Since the launch of the consumer education page, we’ve had over 3 million page views. 

It’s now 2014. Business models and technology have evolved and there are countless new innovative consumer products and services in the marketplace.  Consumer education is more important than ever.  To meet the call of the FTC, we are launching an initiative to update our consumer education pages to incorporate information about new methods for collecting information, the rapidly-evolving mobile ecosystem, and the introduction of new devices in the marketplace. We have reached out to our membership, and we are convening a working group of company representatives to work on content development and messaging.  Andrew Rausa from Undertone is our first volunteer. We invite any and all stakeholders — not just NAI members — to the table to help us develop accurate, accessible and useful consumer information materials.  

We want to strike the right balance between providing consumers with all of the relevant information they may need and providing so much detail that the materials are no longer useful or meaningful. The FTC is a master at this, and we hope to follow their lead.  Once again, we’ll be working with a professional design and communication team to help us get the message right. We hope to launch the new materials this fall and reach consumers through donated advertising impressions from our members.  

If you are interested in working with us in this effort, please reach out to me at

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