Online Behavioural Advertising is a practice that is based on an internet user’s browsing activity over time and across multiple websites that allows advertisers to deliver ads that may better reflect the user's interests.

The EASA Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising, released on 14 April 2011, and revised and updated in October 2016 (to include application of the principles to the mobile environment, as well as more comprehensive notes on the compliance and enforcement programmes in place) provides for a pan-European, industry-wide self-regulatory standard for online behavioural advertising (OBA), which empowers consumers across Europe.

The Best Practice Recommendation promotes the identification of OBA data collection and use practices on ads and websites via a uniform European-wide icon. This icon clicks through to a simple mechanism that provides consumers with full transparency and control, allowing them to exercise their online choices. When clicked on, the icon allows internet users to find out more about which companies are involved in serving the ad and also directs them to a European-wide website (

The website provides information about Online Behavioural Advertising and a simple means for consumers, in their national language, to exercise their choice about whether they want to receive OBA ads. Consumers that wish to file a complaint about a particular practice of OBA will be able to do so via the established, independent advertising self-regulatory organisation in their home country. 

With the adoption of the Best Practice Recommendation, national advertising self-regulatory organisations have committed to applying self-regulatory standards to Online Behavioural Advertising, handling complaints thereon, and introducing the principles of the recommendation into their Codes.

Further Information

  • The debate on OBA was sparked at EU level in 2009 when MEPs, Commissioners and national governments’ debated the 2009 e-Privacy Directive;
  • In 2010, then Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes challenged the ad industry to empower all European citizens through greater transparency, choice and control. EASA responded in 2011 by publishing the OBA Best Practice Recommendation;
  • Today, the OBA consumer transparency icon directs consumers to the website, available in 27 European languages and across 33 countries, which explains the Online Behavioural Advertising process and gives consumers choice.