December 2023

In this month's newsletter:



Last week, the ANA released the complete report of the ANA Programmatic Media Supply Chain Transparency Study, which offered compelling reasons and a step-by-step playbook for marketers to implement the collection and analysis of log-level data to improve the cost and effectiveness of their digital campaigns. The study found that marketers could drive a 20% increase in their ad productivity from the effective use of comprehensive log-level data.

FINAL ANA Programmatic Media Study[58] 1 (1)-minCommenting on the findings, TAG CEO Mike Zaneis said, "The ANA transparency study highlights the perils of a 'garbage in, garbage out' approach to transparency for marketers in which they lack log-level data across all of their downstream partners. The study found that just 36% of post-transaction programmatic budgets are spent on valid, viewable, measurable, and non-MFA impressions, thus demonstrating the massive potential benefits for marketers in shifting their partners to a transparency framework like TAG TrustNet.”

Among the direct recommendations in the ANA study:

  • “Initiate an audit of your supply chain with a focus on assessing log-level data availability. Ensure your contracts require access to LLD. …
  • “Begin with a small-scale approach by connecting your DSP and ad verification data. This will help you gain insights into your own price and quality dynamics, where much of the benefit resides.
  • “Gain a comprehensive understanding of potential data suppliers and the specific data fields they can provide. The TAG TrustNet Log-Level Data Register provides an easy-to-understand profile of suppliers and is updated quarterly. …
  • “Expand upon this foundation by incorporating SSP log-level data into your analysis. This broader dataset will provide a more comprehensive view of your supply chain costs.
  • “Once you have successfully matched DSP, ad verification, and SSP log-level data, you have the flexibility to integrate additional datasets that you deem valuable. Those can include data related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), sustainability, Made for Advertising websites, and privacy and compliance data.
  • “Use data to drive decision-making, solve problems, and generate efficiencies for your programmatic spending. …
  • “The industry should come together to create standards for data access and log-level data matching. The TAG Certified for Transparency program is an existing example. It promotes the flow of media spend to digital advertising organizations that uphold an industry framework for transparency.” 

“By driving adoption of an industry-wide framework for log-level data, marketers can regain control over their investments and understand exactly where their money is going,” Zaneis continued. “Through a single, accurate view of all their impression data, brands can ensure they are succeeding against their most important metrics, including ROI, price vs. quality, brand safety, sustainability, DEI, or any combination of the above. Such control enables much greater value to be extracted from programmatic campaigns for advertisers, and for publishers and consumers too.”

TAG's "Certified for Transparency" Program establishes a "shared truth" on campaign data for participants across the supply chain, increasing confidence and control for buyers and raising the value of inventory for sellers who can prove they are responsible, accountable, and transparent. A central requirement for seal recipients is participation in a TAG-recognized transparency utility that has the ability to create a single trusted record for transactions through real-time reconciling and sharing advertising log files with marketers.

Additional information about the TAG Certified for Transparency Program can be found at tagtoday.net/transparency .



New TAG Threat Intelligence Forecast Finds “All But Certain” Risk of AI-Powered Malvertising Attacks in 2024

A new TAG Threat Intelligence Forecast, “The Impact of Generative AI on the Malvertising Landscape,” found an “all but certain” risk of generative AI being utilized by malvertising attacks in 2024.

GENERATIVE AI-minExcerpts of that report follow:

“Cybercriminals are all but certain to leverage generative AI to enable malvertising campaigns in the coming year. Generative AI is easy to adapt and can enhance the quantity and quality of malvertising creatives and ad copywriting. 

“We expect these campaigns to initially target English speakers as most early-stage large language models (LLMs) are currently most effective in English. Additionally, AI identification tools are prone to inaccuracy, and, in the background of all of this, AI regulatory efforts are generally centered around consumer data protection, with little to no mention on the criminal use of AI. Finally, there are examples of nation-state actors leveraging AI in disinformation campaigns that could serve as a proof-of-concept for further illegal exploitation. 

“We have high confidence in our assessment based on reliable and corroborated open sources, including academic research, government assessments, qualified subject matter experts, and proprietary TAG Threat Exchange data. 

  • AI Generated Content:  AI-generated content is easy to create and cost-effective, which makes a malvertising campaign more accessible. Malvertisers can leverage AI-generated content to augment both their ad quantity and quality. Apart from crafting ad creatives, malvertisers can also utilize AI to code the malware associated with malvertising. …
  • Overcoming Language Barriers:  The developers of most commercially available LLMs initially trained them with the English- speaking internet. Consequently, these LLMs work more effectively in English or when translated into English. This bias towards English will likely evaporate over time as more geographically diverse models come online; however, AI-enabled exploitation in English will remain more common over the next year. …
  • Lack of Publisher Safeguards and AI Regulations:  Current safeguards against misusing AI-generated content are inadequate to address emerging threats, including AI-enabled malvertising. Moreover, AI regulation primarily concerns consumer data protection and overlooks curbing criminal use. Furthermore, the key tech players in AI’s creation cannot reach a consensus on regulatory guidelines. …
  • AI Enabled Disinformation as Proof of Concept for Malvertisers:  State-sponsored, AI-enabled disinformation campaigns appeared in two recent disclosures by U.S. intelligence and threat researchers. Both broadly illustrate the risks associated with this new technology. While neither incident leverages advertising, their existence is a testament to the malicious applications of even basic generative AI capabilities. Criminal actors are likely to take note of these tactics, follow the lessons learned from their identification, and plausibly apply these techniques to novel applications, including AI-enabled malvertising campaigns. …

“Technological disruptions like generative AI put the advertising industry on precarious footing. The advantages to its adoption are myriad, but examples of its misuse are sobering. While AI will enable ad tech to automate complex tasks to better serve relevant and tailored ads to consumers, cybercriminals will leverage these same applications to enhance the effectiveness of their illegal activity. However, the next year presents an opportunity—however fleeting—for the digital advertising industry to invest in the collective defense of its supply chain.”

The full TAG Threat Forecast can be found on the TAG site.


TAG’s “Member Spotlight” Series Features Gum Gum CEO Phil Schraeder 

On the sixth and final episode of the Member Spotlight, Gum Gum CEO Phil Schraeder talks with TAG’s Jules Kendrick about the minimum threshold for brand safety and suitability for brands, the importance of context, and Gum Gum’s work with TAG and the digital advertising community to advance brand safety.



Member Spotlight



From the “Online Advertising Taskforce Action Plan” Released by the UK Government’s Department of Media, Culture, and Sport:  

“Through the Online Advertising Taskforce, we have a real opportunity for government and industry to work together to tackle illegal advertising and increase the protection of children, in anticipation of future regulation being introduced. …

“Other initiatives led by industry members outside the membership of the Taskforce are also important in this space, including the work of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG),for example in relation to malware and fraud.”

From “IAS Released Inaugural Responsibility Report” in MarTech Cube:

“In August 2023, the Trustworthy Accountability Group recognized IAS as one of 10 inaugural companies to receive the Certified for Transparency seal, indicating high levels of transparency and accountability across its company’s operations.”


DocLeverage TAG Research into Your Everyday!

From APAC Fraud Snapshot reports, to UK Brand Safety Consumer reports, to Best Practices whitepapers, TAG's research is here to support our member's day-to-day compliance as well as strategic planning. 

Visit our Data and Insight page 👉 tagtoday.net/insights

SpeakerLet's Make Some Noise Together 🤝

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 andrewwstn@gmail.com for review before release.


Topics: Blog