Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yahoo tweaks advertising policies in response to Congress

Last week, Congress sent letters to Internet platform providers expressing concern over targeted advertising. Now those letters have resulted in action from at least one company, which will now enable users to opt-out.

As part of its new privacy policy announced this afternoon, Yahoo will give its users a choice as to choose whether to opt-out of the company's targeted advertising across its properties. It is already offering its users an option to opt-out of similar ads served by third-party networks.

Yahoo global public policy chief David Hantman announced the new policy as part of its response to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which sent out letters on August 1 to Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and AOL.

"We want our users to receive ads that are relevant to them -- ads they value. Ads valued by our users are inherently valuable to our advertisers as well, thus enabling a vibrant ecosystem that allows Yahoo to develop and offer more content and services to our users for free due to advertising," Hantman explained.

"However, we understand that there are some users who prefer not to receive customized advertising so we want to offer them transparency and choice about the options that are available to them."

Beginning in August, consumers will be able to use the new opt-out feature, which will be accessible through a "privacy center" link that appears on pages throughout its networks. The feature will also be advertised within a public service campaign Yahoo has been running throughout its ad network to educate users on targeted advertising.

The Commerce Committee requested responses from the Internet ad leaders to a set of 11 questions revolving around the subject of targeting ads to specific users. The congressmen were looking for answers as to how the companies engage in the practice and to what extent, as well as with regard to address privacy and legal concerns.

Responses were due Friday. Although it is not known who else may have responded to the Committee's queries, Yahoo is the first to publicly acknowledge that it is making changes as a result of those concerns.

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