TAG Today - April 2019

April 30, 2019


TAG Reaches Milestone 500th Member Company, Nearly Doubles in Membership Over Past Year

Late this month, TAG reached a dramatic milestone in its growth as it approved the 500th company for TAG membership and participation in the TAG Registry, nearly doubling the 269 companies that had completed the membership process a year ago.

All 500 TAG member companies have been verified through TAG's proprietary background check and review process as legitimate participants in the digital advertising industry, and all of them have received TAG-IDs, so they are publicly searchable through the TAG Registry to improve transparency and accountability in the supply chain. 

“This extraordinary growth in TAG membership underscores the cross-industry mobilization that has taken place over the last few years to fight fraud, piracy, malware, and lack of transparency,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “When the bugle sounded, hundreds of industry leaders heeded the call to protect their industry, from major consumer platforms to top agencies, renowned brands, trusted publishers, and ad tech startups of every size and business model. We are delighted at the growth of TAG’s membership, and we look forward to working with all of our members to deepen their engagement through TAG’s certification process.”

Thus far, TAG has awarded 177 certifications across its four program areas, including the TAG Certified Against Fraud, TAG Certified Against Malware, TAG Certified Against Piracy, and Inventory Quality Guidelines Seals.

TAG’s 500th member milestone was covered in an exclusive story in MediaPost.

TAG Extends Technological Leadership to Assist Members

Like its members, TAG is constantly updating its internal technologies to better provide the information and resources needed to tackle the endemic threats facing the digital ad ecosystem. Over the next few months, two of those initiatives will come to fruition with the completion of an update to “Phase II” of TAG’s member portal and the launch of TAG’s new threat exchange platform for members.

The evolution to Phase II of the TAG member portal is expected to be completed over the next several weeks and will include a range of new features and functionality, including:

  • Single sign-on access and repository for TAG’s Data Center IP List and Pirate Mobile App List users and contributors
  • Opportunity to build real-time information sharing forums/capabilities for each tool
  • Ease secure access to TAG’s tools, providing a more seamless member experience

Member Portal

The updated portal will also allow TAG to build a new API in coming months, so members can access and integrate TAG’s tools across their systems.

In addition, TAG is finalizing steps to make its new threat exchange platform available to members later this year. The new platform is being built by TruSTAR, an intelligence management platform that helps enterprises enrich and operationalize their security data.

The new platform will allow TAG members to quickly share information about newly-discovered threats like malware bots or fraud vectors. Through testing of the system, participating companies have already highlighted its potential by successfully discovering and blocking a new malware vector.

The new TAG threat exchange platform is expected to be deployed to all members in Q4 2019.

Input Needed by June 13 on New Anti-Fraud and Anti-Malware Guidelines!

TAG’s Certified Against Fraud and Certified Against Malware Working Groups have recently shared updated versions of their respective guidelines and technical best practices for review and comment. If you haven’t done so already, please take a look and let us know if you have any thoughts or feedback no later than June 13, 2019.

Following are links to the draft guidelines and a few notable changes for your review:

    • App threat filtering will now be required for all participating companies. App threat filtering may be employed pre-bid or post-bid as long as all the monetization transactions (including impressions, clicks, conversions, etc.) that it handles are filtered for app threats. 
    • TAG will no longer allow companies working solely with mobile in-app inventory to request exemptions from existing domain threat filtering requirements.  As those companies do not necessarily prohibit serving or calling third-party domains from within mobile app environments, TAG has opted to remove this exception in its entirety. 
    • Provisions for documenting malware scanning responsibilities in legal agreements have been codified into requirements. Additionally, two new requirements were added:
      • Direct Sellers must validate that their partners are scanning for malware by documenting what vendors they use.
      • Intermediaries must have the capability to scan and shut off malicious demand sources upon request from sell-side partners.
    • All covered parties will now be required to employ Seat ID attributes based on OpenRTB specifications as follows:
      • Direct Buyers, Direct Sellers and Intermediaries must ensure that all programmatic buying disclosures fully comply with OpenRTB specifications v.2.2 or higher and include the SeatBid object and Seat (ID) attribute information when making and honoring bid responses.
      • Direct Sellers and Intermediaries must build or set up the capability to turn off Seat IDs or a company’s direct partner to whom the Seat ID belongs, should a Red Flag event occur.

After feedback from the TAG community has been incorporated, final documents will be released in early July 2019, and TAG will begin enforcing compliance with this new standard in January 2020.

For any questions or comments on the revised guidelines, please contact Bonnie Niederstrasser at


From AList Daily on “Mobile App Fraud Increases YoY as Marketers Pour Ad Dollars Into Platform”:

Mobile app fraud continues to rise as advertisers pour billions of ad spend into the platform. Marketing measurement provider DoubleVerify found that from 2017 to 2018, fraud has been rampant in the form of sophisticated invalid traffic impressions and applications. …

That being said, it’s no wonder that marketers and fraudsters alike have honed in on mobile. A recent report by Scalarr suggests that marketers will lose nearly $13 billion to mobile app install fraud in 2019. This estimated loss is a significant increase from $7.3 billion in 2018.

In November, the IAB Technology Laboratory released app-ads.txt, a mobile extension of its fraud prevention tool, for beta testing and commentary. Earlier in 2018, The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) added a requirement that all publishers implement the ads.txt standard if they want to become TAG Certified Against Ad Fraud.

From Forbes on “Digital Ad Fraud Siphons Dollars – And Smartphone Batteries”:

When Oracle cybersecurity researchers discovered malware earlier this year dubbed DrainerBot—which was draining people’s Android smartphones and ballooning their data bills by secretly racking up video play requests—it cast a spotlight on a big and growing problem for the mobile ad industry: sophisticated invalid traffic, or SIVT.  …

[Advertisers should] make sure their digital advertising partners have been awarded the TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal from the Trustworthy Accountability Group, which sets rigorous standards for fraud prevention across the industry.

Publishers also should participate in the International Advertising Bureaus (IAB's) Ads.txt initiative to combat counterfeit inventory. Ads.txt provides a mechanism for listing authorized digital sellers.

A PR Reminder from TAG

We love it when TAG members highlight our work together to fight digital ad crime and improve transparency. Please send any TAG-related press releases, blogs, or other announcements to Andrew Weinstein at for review before release.


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