A global approach to tackling digital advertising's safety issues

11 May 2018  |  Nick Stringer 
A global approach to tackling digital advertising's safety issues

TAG's Nick Stringer explains how the body is working with the Joint Committee for Web Standards in the UK to create a consistent approach to digital advertising standards across the US and UK markets

As the digital adverting sector gets to grip with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it also faces many other well-publicised safety challenges - be it fraud or inadvertently supporting sites that infringe copyright.

Although good progress is being made on these issues cajoled by the ‘clean up your act’ rallying cries of marketers such as P&G’s Marc Pritchard and Unilever’s Keith Weed, the progress can often be fragmented. TAG is seeking to overcome this.

Global Standards for Local Markets

Whilst global issues require a global approach, the reality is that markets often have different developments, jurisdictions, cultures, as well as political and regulatory environments. To this extent - and to steel the phrase from Richard Foan, Chair of JICWEBS - a ‘global standards for local markets’ approach is required. This involves tackling issues by recognising these differences but also by ensuring a consistent approach across markets.

That’s why TAG and JICWEBS are aligning efforts to bring this closer to reality, underpinning UK initiatives such as IAB UK’s Gold Standard and the Association of Online Publisher’s (AOP) Ad Quality Charter.

The UK Approach

Both TAG and JICWEBS recognise the strengths in each other's approaches, notably the UK’s brand safety initiative (known as the JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Good Practice Principles to minimise ad misplacement) and TAG’s anti-fraud initiative (known as the Certified Against Fraud programme).

The partnership will build upon these efforts. It will involve three distinct phases:

1. As of now JICWEBS will introduce TAG’s Registration scheme into the UK market - identifying and verifying the validity and legitimacy of companies, supported by a unique identifier (the ‘TAG ID’) - as well as promote and offer TAG’s Certified Against Malware and Certified Against Piracy programmes.

TAG will continue to administer these programmes and, whilst organisations with cross-market operations can still deal with TAG directly, companies operating in the UK are encouraged to liaise with JICWEBS.

TAG Registration is mandatory if a company wishes to sign-up and comply with TAG’s anti-malware and anti-piracy programmes. However, there is no requirement to be a JICWEBS subscriber to participate in these TAG initiatives. In this first phase, the UK’s anti-fraud efforts remains in place, as does the brand safety initiative which TAG explicitly endorses for companies operating in the UK market.

Recent research in the US found that industry initiatives to tackle ad-funded piracy, such as TAG’s Certified against Piracy programme, is helping to reduce ad-funded piracy by between 48-61%. The TAG initiative complements the availability of the UK Police IP Crime Unit’s (PIPCU) Infringing Website List (IWL).

2. By the end of 2018, the existing UK anti-fraud effort will be merged to provide a seamless approach across the markets via TAG’s Certified Against Fraud programme. Discussions are under way to achieve this. A recent US study found that fraudulent advertising was cut by 83% in TAG-Certified distribution channels. This includes the use of ads.txt, already a requirement of the IAB UK’s Gold Standard.

In this second stage, TAG will continue to explicitly endorse the UK’s brand safety initiative for companies operating in the UK market.

3. The respective TAG and JICWEBS DTSG brand safety initiatives will be brought into line by the end of 2019. As under existing UK market initiatives, any united standard will require independent verification by an approved JICWEBS auditor in the UK market.

International Alignment

In aligning these important industry initiatives across the UK and US markets, it will foster greater trust, transparency and confidence in digital advertising. And, as Sean Harvey penned in this recent piece, “the UK and US are merging their efforts to make internet advertising safer.”

An international approach - supporting local market initiatives - will deliver a consistent approach for brand advertisers as well as the digital advertising supply chain, and ultimately the consumer who continues to access and engage with quality digital content funded by advertising at little or no cost.


Nick Stringer is Vice President of Global Engagement & Operations at TAG

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