Conference on the law and business of online advertising

Attention: Technology, business and legal writers and editors

Media contact: Susan Gluss, UC Berkeley, School of Law, 510.642.6936,

What: A one-day conference, “The Law and Business of Online Advertising,” will examine the impact of new business models for Internet advertising and the evolving legal risks in this fast-growing field. Academics, practitioners, corporate leaders, and technology experts will discuss legal, policy, and technical developments. 

It begins with two tutorials led by rivals Google and Microsoft on issues of economics and technology. Expert panels will explore issues facing consumers, publishers, and advertisers; topics include online privacy, profiling, and click fraud. The conference meets just as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) drafts new rules to protect privacy in online sales and marketing.

The conference is co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center on Law & Technology and the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara Law School.

When: Friday, April 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Where: Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

Who: Conference participants and their topics include:

  • Hal Varian, chief economist, Google Inc., on the business of online advertising;
  • Kim Howell, senior privacy strategist, Microsoft Corp., on the technology of online advertising;
  • Joel Winston, a ssociate director, Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, on the FTC’s proposed rules to regulate online behavior profiling;
  • Peter Swire, law professor and former Clinton Administration chief counselor for privacy, on antitrust issues;
  • John Horrigan, research director, Pew Internet& American Life Project, on new research about consumer attitudes and e-commerce;
  • Jeffrey Rohrs, vice president marketing, ExactTarget, on issues facing advertisers, including click fraud.

Details: The program is free and open to the media. Free registration required by the general public.

Background: Internet advertising revenues now exceed about $20 billion annually—evidence of the Web’s marketing power. New technologies promise to deliver greater benefits for advertisers, but not without legal risk. As the industry consolidates, concerns are being raised about consumer privacy, a stifling of competition, online profiling, etc.

Web-search engine Google, Inc. gets virtually all of its revenue from online advertising. To boost its dominant position in the market, the company acquired DoubleClick for $3.2 billion. But the move caused an outcry among competitors, including Microsoft, who said it might violate antitrust laws. Google is now selling a part of DoubleClick due to conflict-of-interest issues. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been acting aggressively to grab its own share of the Internet search and advertising business. The firm’s unsolicited $44.6 billion acquisition of Yahoo may turn into a hostile takeover.

What are the legal minefields that companies need to know about when diving into online advertising? Will consumer privacy issues torpedo online profiling? How can businesses safely navigate this explosive industry? These questions and more will be addressed by conference experts.