December 22, 2020

TAG Today - December 2020



There is no doubt that 2020 has been the most turbulent, wrenching, and unpredictable year since the beginning of the digital advertising era more than a quarter century ago.

Our world – and our industry – have struggled through not only the global pandemic and associated economic shocks but also social justice protests, US election controversies, and the most dramatic shifts in consumer behavior in generations, as hundreds of millions of people stopped traveling, ended public/social activities, and shifted to work and education from home.

As always in periods of dramatic change, criminals have moved aggressively to take advantage of the turmoil and confusion with brazen and sophisticated attacks across the digital advertising supply chain. In the face of those challenges, the TAG Community has not only defended, but expanded, its efforts across every facet of TAG’s mission.

We owe that continued progress and success to you and your TAG member peers for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with TAG to transform these crises into opportunities. Following are a few of the notable achievements we were able to accomplish together in 2020.

Eliminating Fraudulent Traffic

  • We have continued to strengthen the industry’s defenses against invalid traffic (IVT), with even more rigorous requirements to achieve the TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal, including filtration of SIVT from 100% of ad transactions, independent validation for all global/EU participants, and more robust requirements to stop IVT in the in-app and connected TV (CTV) environments.
  • The effectiveness of those standards is being validated worldwide, as regional studies found an IVT reduction of more than 90% in TAG Certified Channels across the US, Europe, UK, and Asia-Pacific. As fraud rates have fallen, industry confidence has grown with record numbers of ad impressions now flowing through TAG Certified Channels.
  • As consumer behavior shifts to CTV, so has criminal activity, but TAG’s anti-fraud standards have proven their effectiveness across this new channel as well. According to the most recent TAG US Fraud Benchmark Study, the use of TAG Certified Channels for CTV advertising reduced IVT in those channels to just 0.6%.

Promoting Brand Safety

  • In September, TAG launched the ad industry’s first global brand safety certification program. More than 110 companies participated in the launch – including Amazon Advertising, Facebook, Google, GroupM, Omnicom Media Group, Twitter, and Walmart – with each meeting the robust criteria, policies, and procedures required to become TAG Brand Safety Certified. 
  • A new TAG/BSI survey released in December highlighted the value of the new TAG Brand Safety Certified Program, as the vast majority of consumers (85%) said they feel more positive about companies that require their ad partners to be independently certified to meet high brand safety standards. The survey also discovered a nuanced consumer view around brand safety, encompassing malvertising and piracy as facets of the challenge, as well as strong support for advertising around controversial news topics. 
  • TAG also completed a successful 12-month cross-industry pilot program to evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to increase trust and transparency in digital advertising. Following the conclusion of the beta program, TAG launched an industry consultation with key stakeholders to discuss next steps, with an update to come in early 2021.

Sharing Threat Intelligence

  • As new and sophisticated threats emerged in 2020, TAG responded through the full deployment of one of its most effective countermeasures, the TAG Threat Exchange. With more than fifty participating companies monitoring and protecting every part of the supply chain, the TAG Threat Exchange has become the industry’s primary forum for intelligence gathering, threat-sharing, and rapid response to emerging threats. 
  • Over the course of the year, TAG facilitated its members in sharing intelligence and partnering to dismantle several major fraud operations, including ICEBUCKET, Hydra/Terracotta, and StreamScan. TAG also worked behind the scenes with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to educate their teams about threats facing the digital ad supply chain, assist with ongoing investigations and lead industry education efforts through white papers and webinars on related issues.

Supporting the Global TAG Community

  • Despite the challenging headwinds in the digital ad industry, the global TAG Community grew to include more than 675 companies in 34 countries. Major drivers for TAG’s growth included the July merger with JICWEBS, which created a European and global powerhouse, and new partnerships in China and Japan. The JICWEBS merger and Asia-based hires have grown Team TAG to include regional leaders in Europe and Asia-Pacific markets focused on advancing TAG’s global efforts.
  • In addition to strong membership trends, TAG’s certification programs saw significant growth in 2020. The number of TAG seals issued in 2020 increased by 45% on a year-over-year basis, driven by strong growth in the TAG Certified Against Fraud Program and the extraordinary 110-company launch of the TAG Brand Safety Certified Program. In addition, there was a 25% increase in TAG Platinum Members (companies achieving all four of TAG’s certifications), and 38% of all TAG certifications now cover global operations.

Thank you for everything you have done to protect the digital advertising industry in 2020. We hope you have a joyous season, and we look forward to even greater collaboration and success in 2021.


From "Oracle Exposes Massive CTV Fraud Operation" in MediaPost: 

Mike Zaneis, CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), said that TAG has expanded its threat-sharing capabilities through the TAG Threat Exchange "to quickly disseminate information about new and emerging threats in areas like CTV ad fraud." and is working with Oracle and other participating companies to "build an impenetrable barrier" against ad fraud. TAG and Oracle plan to hold an industry briefing in January about mitigating this latest fraud threat. 

From an op-ed by Casey Campbell, Managing Director, North America, Gameloft in Mobile Marketing Magazine:

At Gameloft, we take our responsibilities very seriously. In September, we were awarded the TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). The Certified Against Fraud Program is the cornerstone of TAG's efforts to combat fraudulent and invalid traffic and a key part of the world's leading program to fight criminal activity and protect brand safety in digital advertising.

TAG ShieldA 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.


Topics: Blog