How An Increase In TAG Certifications Will Affect Brand Safety

The ANA estimates advertisers can lose almost $7billion a year to ad fraud – an astounding figure that highlights the desperate need for action to combat fraudsters.  

As a result, advertisers are demanding more from their partners on this front, asking them to their money where their mouths are. Just last week, advertisers, including Mars, Deutsche Bank and adidas, pulled their ads from YouTube because of obscene comments left under videos that feature children.

Players like P&G are also making waves in the industry by taking a stance that companies can’t ignore. The company’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, demanded every company the $4 billion-a-year advertiser works with will need to have gone through the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) anti-fraud certification process by December 1 of this year.  

It’s led to 26 new seals being awarded to companies, including Unruly, that have gone through the process – a number that has more than doubled since April. More than 120 additional companies are currently in the process of trying to receive that same seal.

With so many verification options in market, confusion and complexity around bot methodology and little information about how that can be measured, TAG has provided a universal framework that allows anyone in the ecosystem to demonstrate how they measure and minimise fraud to their counterparts. On top of this, new research suggests that TAG-certified channels have an invalid traffic (IVT) rate 83% lower than the industry average.

The guidelines help participants better understand how their business should be tackling ad fraud so that they can navigate this complicated landscape in a way that helps the whole ecosystem grow. Areas for consideration are compliance with the MRC IVT guidelines, measuring publisher performance and filtering out unsafe domains, IP filtration and application of TAG’s payment ID protocol.

Ad fraud is a vast and complex part of our industry, and fraud certification is only one part of the wider activity needed to continue to protect businesses. The ad tech industry needs to start pushing the envelope on transparency rather than simply reacting to it. At Unruly, for example, If an advertiser distributes with us, we will guarantee they never pay for ads that appear on fraudulent sites.

In addition to its recent Anti-Fraud seal, Unruly has been a committed partner to TAG, and was one of the first companies to receive an independent review certifying its compliance with the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) Inventory Quality Guidelines (IGQ). Additionally, Unruly has achieved a Seal of Compliance and Certificate which verifies our continued compliance to JICWEBS’ Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Good Practice Principles.

It is safe to say brand safety won’t be moving off the ad agenda any time in the foreseeable future.

In addition to greater adoption of TAG certification, we also expect the industry to step up its efforts to increase transparency, for example, through the ads.txt initiative. New data from Ad Ops Insider suggest 44% of the Alexa Top 10,000, the highest trafficked sites on the web, have established an Ads.txt file – a massive increase from just 13% in 6 weeks.

It’s great to see so many companies coming together to fight this issue, but we must stay diligent.

Fraudsters will always be working to stay one step ahead of advertisers and the only way to ensure lower levels of fraud is to maintain an open dialogue within the industry and continuously pushing forward with new ways to fight this problem.