An explanation of the Behavioural Retargeting Code of Conduct, August 2010

From The IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council (AMC)

An explanation of the Behavioural Retargeting Code of Conduct, August 2010

Behavioural Retargeting (BR) is a method of online promotion. It is premised on serving banner advertising that is targeted based on previous user behaviour. Retargeting helps companies advertise to website visitors who leave without a conversion, encouraging them to return and transact.

How it works

A consumer browses an advertiser/merchant’s site or products then navigates away without purchasing from the advertiser/merchant. As the consumer didn’t transact and in an effort to encourage the consumer to return and purchase, relevant banner ads for that advertiser/merchant are served by behavioural retargeting companies on other websites after the advertiser/merchant’s site has been visited.

The core premise is that because the consumer has had a level of engagement with the advertiser/merchant, additional exposure (be it a general banner or banner featuring specific offers, deals or products) following the consumer visit to the advertiser/merchant site will lead to that consumer transacting when they previously may not have done.

The ads that are served will usually be bought from ad networks by BR companies on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions); the resulting sales from the ads being rewarded by advertisers/merchants on a CPA basis when operated via affiliate networks.

Why is a code of conduct important?

In order for behavioural retargeting to be effective many BR companies require Post Impression (PI) or Post View (PV) cookies to be used alongside traditional click cookies. PI/PV cookies are impression based as opposed to click based; in other words, a cookie is stored on an impression being served rather than a click.

Historically very few networks or affiliate programmes have operated PI/PV cookies, the ‘harder’ action of a click being seen as more in line with the CPA and sale function of affiliate marketing rather than the branding element of banner creative (and therefore impression cookies).

In working with PI/PV cookies the industry needs to set some hierarchy rules involving click and impression cookies and standardising overwriting procedure across all networks.

Also, given banner impressions are perceived as a more passive, brand focused area of online marketing, clarity is needed on whether the cookie length should be different depending on the type of cookie.

With BR becoming more prevalent and BR companies looking to run activity on a CPA basis via affiliate networks a code of conduct has been devised that all BR companies must adhere to when running activity via member networks of the AMC.

The Council has taken the decision to make some elements compulsory with others subject to individual advertiser/merchant choice. Where this choice is available to advertisers/merchants the network will be able to advise on the range of options available.


The following code of conduct applies to all affiliates/publishers who engage in behavioural retargeting in the UK via the following affiliate networks: Affiliate Future, Affiliate Window, Affilinet,, Commission Junction, Linkshare, OMG, TradeDoubler & Webgains.

The following acronyms apply:

* Behavioural Retargeting, (BR)

* Post Impression cookies, (PI)

* Post View cookies, (PV)

Member networks are able to work with BR affiliates/publishers making use of PI / PV based on the following conditions:


1.PI / PV will be run in a controlled way for select affiliates/publishers deemed to offer additional value. This value is at the discretion of the network. The advertiser/merchant will be encouraged to highlight the programmes where PI / PV is in place, offering extra transparency for affiliates/publishers.

2.A PI / PV cookie should never overwrite a click cookie. The following hierarchy should be adhered to by all networks:

* Where a single Post Click affiliate cookie exists in isolation – The Post Click cookie is attributed with the commission (click referrer)

* Where multiple Post Click affiliate cookies exist – The most recent Post Click cookie is attributed with the commission (last click referrer)

* Where a single PI/PV cookie exists in isolation – The PI/PV cookie is attributed with the commission (PI/PV referrer)

* Where multiple PI/PV cookies exist – The most recent PI/PV cookie is attributed with the commission (last PI/PV referrer)

* Where PI/PV cookies and Post Click cookies coexist – The most recent Post Click cookie is attributed with the commission (last click referrer)


1.BR affiliates/publishers should endeavour to provide adequate transparency on where their ads are likely to appear and on which sites. For example, the range of portals and sites or specific pages that are part of the ad inventory and whether it comes from IASH approved ad networks together with clarity on where the ad placements are likely to be (above the fold, ad format etc.).

2.PI / PV cookie lengths are usually shorter than click cookie windows, for example 24 or 48 hours. This should be a key consideration.

The above code of conduct will be adhered to and enforced by all member networks of the IAB AMC.

Affiliates/publisherd engaged in BR will be audited every six months.

Any affiliates/publishers found to be transgressing will be given two weeks to demonstrate they are compliant. Failure to do so could lead to all member affiliate networks suspending the affiliate/publisher from their networks until the affiliate/publisher is deemed compliant.

Interpretation of the code is at the discretion of the AMC.
From The IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council (AMC)

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