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NAI – The Meaning of Membership

We are rapidly approaching an exciting milestone in the growth and reach of NAI – our 100th member company.  This is significant because it highlights a shared commitment to responsible advertising by a variety of company types, each focused on consumer engagement, and each helping the digital economy to thrive. NAI members include not just the largest online advertising networks, but also the leading data management platforms, exchanges, and analytics companies.  Each of these member companies is committed to complying with the NAI Code of Conduct – a set of standards and principles that mandate responsible data management practices for online behavioral advertising.  These principles — based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles of notice, choice, transparency, use limitations, access, security, etc. — exceed current legal obligations in the U.S.  It may not be obvious, but every NAI member must align their business practices with the NAI Code before their membership application is approved.  What does that mean for our members?

It means that before companies can publicly represent that they are NAI members, they must complete a rigorous vetting process that often involves significant time from engineers, lawyers, and other business units within the company.  In nearly every case, we require members to make substantial changes to their privacy policies – and they do.  They clarify language, add representations about retention, and enhance the transparency of their business models.  In most cases, we also require members to fortify their consumer choice mechanisms – and they do that as well.  They invest significant time developing and testing opt-out scripts to ensure that they meet NAI requirements for duration and functionality.  In some cases, applicants may even terminate an entire line of business to become fully compliant with the NAI Code.  Some companies decide not to complete the lengthy application process or don’t even begin the process after they receive our membership application and questionnaire.  Joining the NAI is not easy for some entities, and new member companies should be applauded for their efforts to sign up for self-regulation and voluntarily adhere to standards that exceed current legal requirements.  I’m proud of our members and we should all recognize the time, effort, energy, and genuine commitment NAI members make to our program.  We could have many more members today if we made the process easier or relaxed our standards.  We won’t.

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