The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) – a not for profit self-regulatory organisation – was set up with a mission to tackle criminal activity in digital advertising. According to research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and E&Y in 2015, if the industry works together to tackle criminal activity, it could save over $8 Billion a year in the US alone. By tackling these challenges, TAG hopes to ensure that brands can trust and invest in digital advertising moving forward.
We sat down with Nick Stringer, Vice President of Global Engagement & Operations at TAG, to discuss his views on ad fraud, how TAG’s self-regulatory standard will evolve, and TAG’s focus on creating global standards.
“Global standards for local markets”
Although most of the companies that work with TAG are in the US, about 25% of the companies are non-US. Nick and TAG would like to grow international participation and help develop better ad standards for the global market.
However, the standards must suit different national markets and cultures and therefore TAG is implementing a “Global standards for local markets” approach.
Tackling criminal activity must be handled in a consistent approach across markets, but it needs to be right for national markets. TAG hopes to ensure its standards are apt for different national markets and cultures. TAG is increasingly working with companies across the world.
TAG is planning to release a two-page briefing for the Japanese market and also to visit Japan to speak with companies. However, due to the recent events regarding COVID-19, the visit is delayed but hopefully a visit will now take place in the autumn of 2020.
Please stay tuned for when the briefing is made available, we will help distribute it when the time comes!
Evolving with the future
TAG was set up by US advertising trade bodies like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), but TAG is operated ‘by companies for companies’. TAG focuses on four core areas where each of the areas has its own set of different standards. The four core areas include eliminating ad fraud, combating malware, fighting internet piracy, and promoting transparency.
In each of the four areas, there are four working groups that meet on a monthly basis. These groups are comprised of companies that are involved in evolving the self-regulating standards as technology, markets, and the operations of criminals change.
In 2020, one of the major goals of TAG is to ensure that the standards evolve and for the needs of Connected Television (CTV) and Over-The-Top (OTT) environments. TAG is working with companies like us to make sure that fraud is addressed in these new markets on a global scale.
We at Phybbit are excited to be a part of a team of companies who want to continue developing industry standards and creating a safer marketplace.
The Current State of Ad Fraud
TAG has done research on the effectiveness of the standard in the US and Europe, and plans to do one for APAC soon. In 2019, it was found that TAG certified channels in the US exhibited 1.41% fraud compared to the industry average of 11.4%. In the five leading European markets (the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy), there was found to be 0.53% ad fraud in TAG Certified channels compared to a 9.2% industry average.
Brands buying through agencies, DSPs, exchanges, SSPs that are adhering to TAG’s anti-fraud standards have significantly lower rates of fraud. The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) that includes JAA, is very supportive of TAG’s fraud program because it is making a difference in reducing ad fraud.
Ads.txt, a mechanism for publishers to list their authorized digital sellers, helped in combating domain spoofing fraud, but that alone is not enough. There are four requirements that companies must meet to be certified by TAG for tackling ad fraud:
- Filter 100% of monetizable transactions for General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) according to the Media Rating Counsel’s guidelines
- Filter 100% of monetizable transactions for domain-based threats
- Filter 100% of monetizable transactions for app-based threats
- Filter Data Center IP Addresses
Fraud continues to evolve and the standards need to continue to evolve with the market.
Everyone has a role to play in fighting ad fraud. The standards are broken up into direct buyers, direct sellers, intermediaries, anti-fraud and measurement partners. It’s fluid and some companies fall into some or all groups. There are obligations for each business model, and everyone can seek to adhere to the standards
Awareness and responsibility must be stressed on the advertiser themselves. There currently is not enough awareness about fraud or how to tackle it. Trade bodies like the WFA and JAA help with awareness, but more awareness is needed by advertisers.
A lot of the requirements may fall onto the supply chain, but the standard is there to protect ad spend. Advertisers have a significant purchasing power that can enforce companies to adhere to the standards by working with TAG certified companies.
Proctor and Gamble (P&G) announced that they would only run traffic with companies that are TAG certified. Since P&G is one of the world’s largest global advertisers, many companies began to adhere to the TAG Standards.
TAG is not telling advertisers to only buy from TAG certified channels, but as an advertiser, they have a very strong way of helping the market with robust industry standards because of their ‘purchasing power’. Advertisers need to refuse to pay for the fraud to drive the standard.
TAG in Japan
The TAG standard is designed to be as international as possible, so TAG wants to encourage Japanese companies to be part of TAG and build the standard that is right for the Japanese market, the rest of APAC, and globally.
TAG does a lot of engagement with trade bodies across the world, including Japan. The standards have to be right for the Japanese market. It’ll be interesting this year because it will evolve with the CTV and OTT market.
We hope to do a write up covering CTV and OTT soon!
“Phybbit has taken a really important step. There are a lot of businesses in Japan and APAC that are joining TAG and participating. With Phybbit’s participation, we hope the standard will evolve for everyone. We hope that Phybbit’s participation will act as a stepping stone for more participation.”
Thank you, Nick, for speaking with us. We look forward to helping define the standards that will suit both the Japanese and global markets.