You may have noticed a triangular icon in the corner of advertisements on your favorite news or blog site. This triangle is the AdChoices icon and it’s a trademark of the Digital Advertising Alliance. The AdChoices initiative is a way for advertisers to feed ads that are more relevant to their viewers interests.

The Digital Advertising Alliance is made up of several constituent organizations; the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the Better Business Bureau, the Data and Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the Network Advertising Initiative. This consortium of trade groups works to self-regulate consumer issues such as the AdChoices project.

The concept of the AdChoices tool is to allow users to have more input in the advertisements that are being shown to them. If the ad network that the site you are on is making use of the AdChoices icon then you can click that icon to block and give feedback about the ad in question. One of the biggest users of the AdChoices tool is Google. Not every Google Ad is served with these options but those that are tailor the content to the user. Google has implemented a “mute this ad” feature that displays a small “x” next to the AdChoices icon. This muting feature will allow you to self-select out of a particular ad campaign and can also let you navigate to your Google ad settings page (for the account you’re logged in with) where you can define your areas of interest, modify your profile, or disable interests based ads (more on this in a moment).

While this seems like a great thing, empowering users to see fewer irrelevant ads and letting them change these settings as their desires change, AdChoices raises some serious questions about privacy. As mentioned above, you can disable interests based ads and some people do because this data is collected and stored by Google. Many people feel this is a privacy issue and don’t want any extra information known about them. To help combat any abuses of this data collection two of the organizations; the Better Business Bureau and the Data and Marketing Association are charged with making sure the advertisers in the space are complying with regulations and that complaints made to them are addressed and advertisers held accountable.

This tool should be seen as part of your advertising strategy. As publishers, we’ve seen how it’s in your best interest to follow the desires of your users. As is the case with ad blocking software, you have users who are making a request of you. If you follow their wishes, you can turn what is mostly interruption marketing into a sales funnel for your advertisers. The AdChoice tool is part of the LEAN standards proposed by the IAB that we’ve previously written about. If your ad network offers AdChoices as an option you may want to consider using it.

For more about how the AdChoices tool affects you as a user, visit the Your AdChoices site.