It’s time for an online advertisers bill of rights. So says Harvard assistant professor Ben Edelman, who has spent years researching Internet advertising and compares the current landscape to a “wild west.” Edelman recognizes the “staggering” opportunity that online advertising provides, but says the current system has problems that “threaten to destabilize online advertising—wasting advertisers’ budgets, slowing transition to online formats, and reducing payments to online publishers.”
In his just-published proposal, Edelman outlines five-point bill of rights for anyone advertising online:
- An advertiser’s right to know where its ads are shown.
- An advertiser’s right to meaningful, itemized billing.
- An advertiser’s right to use its data as it sees fit.
- An advertiser’s right to enjoy the fruits of its advertising campaigns.
- An advertiser’s right to resolve disputes fairly and transparently.
Edelman uses Google’s advertising services and policies as examples throughout his proposal, sharing specific examples of practices that he says are harmful to advertisers. He says many of the “starkest problems” can be traced to Google’s online ad system:
“Google does not tell advertisers where their ads will be shown, omits itemized billing, limits how advertisers can use and transfer their own data, and insists on convoluted dispute resolution. Why such one-sided terms from Google?”
Edelman says he hopes his report leads to “improvements in at least the norms and expectations, if not the regulation, of online advertising.”