New directive will ensure that consumers can opt out of data tracking and online promotions

The grocery industry represents over 10% of the total spend on digital advertising and this figure is set to rise over the next two years. Little wonder then that the latest amendment to the ePrivacy Directive, which came into force on 25 May, has many brands looking for guidance on what this means for them.

The directive is designed to create a transparent online environment for consumers, giving direct control over their privacy and particularly the use of cookies on their PCs. It affects any brand that uses online behavioural targeting information about users' browsing behaviour, the sites they visit, the pages they view and the content they read to deliver personalised advertising.

According to research by the IAB, advertisers spend 12% of their online budget on behavioural targeting. Brands will now have to indicate when they are using data to target advertising and provide consumers with information about the purpose and use of this data.

The implications for advertisers are significant. But the UK government has provided a 12-month period of grace to enable businesses to prepare and is collaborating with the industry over its deployment.

In response, IAB Europe has introduced a self regulation framework for online behavioural advertising to address the legislation. This sees the introduction of the Enhanced Notice Icon, a symbol that will need to be shown on or near any online advert that has used behavioural targeting, or when third parties are collecting data on a website.

Users will be able to see a clear notice describing data collection and usage, and this should link to a new site that allows them to manage their privacy preferences.

The industry has agreed that 80% of ads in the UK and Europe will carry the icon by June 2012. The icon is currently available free for testing from the IAB and brands should be working with their agencies to incorporate it into their advertising.

While the UK government has confirmed the directive is to be "light touch, business friendly", it is also an opportunity to develop greater public confidence in the digital advertising industry.