Making Mobile Apps and Online Ads More Trustworthy

Updated: November 01, 2010

Much anecdotal reporting indicates that in the online world, advertising and mobility are two of the hottest hot buttons. Some facts and figures support this view.

Online Advertising: The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) "is comprised of more than 460 leading media and technology companies who are responsible for selling 86 [percent] of online advertising in the United States," according to its Web site. In October 2010 the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) released the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report for the first half of 2010. " Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. were at $12.1 billion in that period, setting a new half-year record that represents an 11.3 percent increase over the first half of 2009. This is also the highest second-quarter revenue on record, up 13.9 percent over the same period of 2009," IAB said.

In March 2010, respected market watchers Kantar Media reported that overall advertising expenditures "fell 12.3 percent in 2009 to $125.3 billion as compared to 2008." However the company found that online advertising grew 7.3 percent during 2009. Clearly, online advertising is a significant and growing segment of overall advertising, and therefore of buying and selling in general.

Mobility: In February 2010, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) an agency of the United Nations, said that there were 4.6 billion subscriptions to mobile phone services worldwide. The ITU predicted that five billion people will be cell phone users by the end of 2010. One billion of those will enjoy access to mobile broadband, the ITU added. Growth drivers include smartphones in developed nations and the growth of mobile services for tasks such as banking and health care management, the agency found.

In comparison, in September 2010, Intel revised its projected third-quarter revenues downward, from a range of $11.2 to $12 billion to a range of $10.8 to $11.2 billion, according to published reports. That same month, venerable market analysts IDC revised its forecasts of worldwide PC sales growth downward, from 19.8 to 17 percent. Multiple industry analysts and pundits agree that more people will access the online world from smartphones than from PCs worldwide soon, and already do so in many areas.

Online Trust: The parallel growth of online advertising and mobility create a rapidly growing need for agile and credible efforts to enable and assure trustworthiness online, for users and providers alike. Emerging and rapidly evolving technologies such as online advertising and mobility often present compelling opportunities for enterprising evildoers.

The combination of mobility and advertising adds to that appeal by its size and growth. In October 2010, research announced by Informa Telecoms & Media found that mobile ad revenue will reach $3.5 billion worldwide by year's end, and grow to $24 billion by 2015. Even if this prediction is wildly optimistic, the mobile advertising market is too big for merchants - and malefactors - to ignore.

Numerous solutions already exist to establish, demonstrate and enforce online trust. Leaders in this market include VeriSign, which recently had its Identity and Authentication Security Business acquired by Symantec, and TRUSTe. However, mobility and online advertising create new and different technological and operational requirements to deliver trustworthiness levels comparable with more predictable and easily managed environments. Recent developments at TRUSTe are illustrative examples of responses to these requirements.

TRUSTe, leveraging $12 million in investment funding the company received in June, announced new privacy certification options for mobile applications and Web sites in September, and a "TRUSTed Ads" privacy platform for advertisers in October.

The TRUSTed Ads platform is also poised to support new options as new challenges and opportunities appear. Also in October, TRUSTe announced a partnership with DoubleVerify, "the pioneer and worldwide leader in online media verification," according to the companies. The partners are jointly offering a solution that combines the TRUSTed Ads platform with DoubleVerify's media verification platform. The combination intends to give consumers readily accessible privacy choices regarding behaviorally-targeted ads. The solution is also designed to ensure that advertisers comply with industry principles for online behavioral advertising (OBA), and to be simple for advertising agencies to implement, the companies said.

There are likely multiple opportunities for other providers of trust enablement technologies to partner with other providers of advertising support services. However, TRUSTe has more than 13 years of experience and reputation to build upon, as well as a proven and extensible technology platform. This positions the company and its partners well and makes them likely to be on many if not most "short lists" at companies seeking to deliver verifiably trustworthy mobility and advertising experiences online.

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