Advertising Option Icon

Subject: Comments/Recommendations on Use of Advertising Option Icon in Pharmaceutical Marketing


The Advertising Option Icon was developed to indicate a specific adherence to industry self-regulation regarding transparency. According to IAB, the icon shows “that the advertising is covered by the self-regulatory program and by clicking on the icon, consumers will gain access to a disclosure statement regarding data collection and use practices associated with the ad as well as an easy-to-use opt-out mechanism.”

Industry Implications:

We have seen a dramatic increase in brands across multiple industries using the icon, but it is not highly used in pharma as yet. That said we believe pharma brands will begin increasing adoption soon. While there is little incentive for publishers to use it, the overall drive to transparency by marketers will increase its use in pharma. The icon – and OBA (online behavioral advertising) compliance in general – is about being fully transparent about the technologies and information sources that are being used to deliver targeted advertising to end users.

A second driver of use by pharma will be the consumer, which includes patients, caregivers and HCPs. Consumers may become accustomed to seeing the icon and expect it or associate it with best practices.

It doesn’t seem that there are specific nuances for HCPs that differ for those of any consumer. HCPs as a group tend to be more tech-savvy and concerned with transparency, so it seems the icon would be a welcome addition in their eyes. The baby boomer generation of HCPs is more pharma-friendly and less tech-savvy, than the current emerging docs, so it’s less likely they’ll recognize the icon than will their younger counterparts.


We recommend our clients consult with their media and creative agencies to determine whether it is appropriate to adopt the icon in new marketing efforts and/or retroactively in continuing marketing programs.