TAG Today - August 2018

September 4, 2018


Independent Validation Helps Drive TAG’s Global Growth

Late last month, TAG welcomed the announcement by ABC, a leading UK digital verification expert, that it will offer services as an outside auditor for TAG’s Certified Against Fraud, Certified Against Piracy, and Certified Against Malware Programs. ABC becomes the independent verification provider for TAG’s seal programs focused on a non-US market, joining  the Alliance for Audited MediaBPA Worldwide and Ernst & Young in providing auditing services for TAG’s certifications.

As the network of external auditors supporting TAG certification has grown, so have the number of companies taking advantage of those services. To date, 26 companies have chosen to be independently validated for one or more of TAG’s certification programs, earning a total of 41 independently validated certification seals, accounting for 27% of all TAG certification seals awarded to date. Eight companies have been validated for more than one of TAG’s seal programs, while three companies (LKQD, OpenX, and Sovrn) have earned all four TAG certification seals through independent validation.

Notably, as TAG expands its global reach and impact, every company that has chosen to be independently validated has also opted to certify its global operations, showing the importance of independently validation in non-US markets – particularly in Europe.

TAG Expands Info-Sharing Collaboration with Federal Agencies and Partners

At the core of TAG’s mission is fighting criminal activity in digital advertising, and as the advertising industry’s first and only Information Sharing and Analysis Organization(ISAO), we’ve always engaged in close collaboration with law enforcement to share information about criminal activity and help bring those criminals to justice.

Over the summer, TAG has expanded those collaborative efforts through a variety of channels. Just this week, TAG joined the Department of Homeland Security’s  (DHS) Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP), so we can provide DHS officials with industry intelligence and expertise.

Earlier this month, TAG executives also briefed the State Department’s Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement on TAG’s Certified Against Piracy Program, including the success of that programin reducing ad-supported piracy. We’ll continue to share information between our teams in the coming months, particularly when the opportunity arises to collaborate on international IP threats that touch the digital advertising industry.

In addition to those agency interactions, TAG executives also presented last month at the 4A’s Advertising Protection Bureau (APB) Partner Day around the work being led by TAG to foster transparency throughout the digital ad supply chain and facilitate information-sharing about threats facing the industry. (The event brought together the major advertising agencies with the partners with whom they work to ensure their clients’ brand safety.) 

Looking ahead, TAG executives will be taking a visible role at the 2018 International Information Sharing Conference in Washington, DC this October, so we can share the benefits of our experience with other organizational leaders from around the world. We will also be participating in DHS’s 2018 IPR Symposium to help law enforcement agencies understand the nuances of tackling intellectual property theft in the social media environment.

TAG’s Stringer on Progress In Worldwide Fight Against Digital Ad Crime

In an interview with FIPP, the network for global media, Nick Stringer, TAG’s Vice President for Global Engagement and Operations, offered his insights into the progress being made in fighting digital ad crime and related issues. Excerpts from that interview follow.

“Advertisers lose billions each year to criminal activity, and ad-fraud makes up over half of it,” says Nick Stringer, VP of global engagement and operations for TAG and previously Director of Regulatory Affairs from 2008 – 2015 at the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK). …

Established in the US in 2014, the TAG programme has become increasingly successful in reducing fraudulent invalid traffic in the digital advertising supply chain over the years. A 2017 US study carried out by The 614 Group, found that the use of TAG Certified distribution channels for digital advertising reduced the level of fraud to 1.48 pere cent - an 83 per cent reduction over industry averages.

“TAG has a set of standards – underpinned by market trading seals – for each area of criminal activity that it focuses on. Businesses expect their content to be viewed by legitimate people with the potential to buy their products or services. But criminal organisations have infiltrated the digital advertising supply chain with malware and other methods to generate invalid traffic and defraud legitimate participants.”

“There is also a dedicated Certified Against Fraud programme to provide companies with a way to effectively fight invalid traffic, and more than 85 companies across the globe have achieved the Certified Against Fraud Seal to date. Requirements to achieve the seal include complying with the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) Invalid Traffic Guidelines, deploying technological tools to filter domain threats and data centre IP threats, as well as transparency tools like Ads.txt and TAG’s Payment ID System to create public records of authorized digital sellers and trusted chains of custody for transactions.” 

The programme is supported by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in its recent Global Media Charter. In an industry where the benefits of increased co-operation amongst practitioners have long since been emphasised by FIPP and others, TAG offers a co-ordinated approach. It is working towards a harmonised approach across markets. But the growing prominence of digital advertising brings with it a whole new set of challenges, not least in the form of harmful malware software. 

“Malware, or ‘malvertising’, is a serious issue which needs to be tackled as it contributes to the problem of ad fraud in digital advertising. TAG’s Certified Against Malware programme provides a set of standards to help companies combat malware effectively in the digital advertising supply chain, improving the customer experience and stopping botnet attacks that fund fraudsters. The programme includes requirements related to verifying your partners and documenting their responsibilities, scanning and rescanning assets and landing page URLs throughout campaigns, and having proper procedures in place to respond to and remediate in the event of malware attacks. By co-ordinating cross-industry information-sharing, TAG enables companies to partner in thwarting attacks that they would not be able to stop alone.”


From Matt Harada, GM of Data Solutions at Sovrn in MediaPost:

Brand safety soared to the top of the digital advertising agenda throughout 2017, with an end-of-year survey from the Association of National Advertisers revealing almost four-fifths (78%) of its members had concerns about brand safety issues in programmatic.

This year, instead of simply voicing their concerns, brands and media buyers are taking action to address brand safety issues, while still enjoying the many benefits programmatic brings in scale and efficiency.… 

By working with exchanges that are audited by independent industry associations, such as TAG, JICWEBS and the IAB Gold Standard, buyers can have confidence in the quality and suitability of the supply on offer.

To curate a clean, high-quality media ecosystem exchanges need to implement a rigorous vetting process, ensuring only domains with appropriate, brand safe content are included. Rather than a one-time check, this process should involve detailed audits and ongoing monitoring, using a combination of human review and intelligent technology to maintain the integrity of the network.

From an interview with Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG, in The Stack: 

Brand safety has become an enterprise risk for most businesses today, yet many companies are not prioritizing brand protection to the degree they should be. In today’s world of real-time social media and instant information, a brand disaster – ranging from ad placement near illegal or offensive content to association with digital criminals – can translate into an immediate loss of sales and long-term damage to customer relationships.  …

Given the complexity of the brand safety challenge and the multiple overlapping issues it encompasses, companies should no longer drift along with the traditional decentralized “we hope we catch it” approach.

By appointing a Brand Safety Officer, forward-thinking companies place a single executive at the nexus of their brand safety efforts, so that executives can develop the deep skills and expertise necessary, evaluate their company’s existing systems and policies, and ensure that brand protection receives the necessary focus in key decisions.

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