TAG Today - June 2018

June 29, 2018


TAG CEO Mike Zaneis Testifies to Congress on Digital Advertising Ecosystem

On June 14th, TAG CEO Mike Zaneis testified to a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives before the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. At the hearing on “Understanding the Digital Advertising Ecosystem,” Zaneis offered his insights in the digital economy and the success of self-regulatory programs like TAG in fighting criminal activity and addressing other systemic challenges. An excerpt of his written testimony follows:

Founded in January 2015, TAG is an industry-led 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization. It is the leading member-based global certification program fighting criminal activity and increasing trust in the digital advertising industry.

TAG’s mission is to eliminate fraudulent traffic, combat malware, prevent internet piracy, and promote greater transparency in the digital advertising supply chain. TAG advances those initiatives by bringing member companies from across the digital advertising supply chain together in a variety of working groups to set the highest standards for its certification programs in these four areas of our mission.

The working groups develop and maintain suites of compliance tools to aid companies in complying with the certification program guidelines. Companies that are shown to abide by the standard for a TAG program can achieve the certification seal for that program and use the seal to publicly communicate their commitment to combatting criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain. ...

Industry self-regulation is an effective means of addressing the challenges facing the digital advertising ecosystem. During the past year, independent research has measured the effectiveness of TAG’s anti-fraud and anti-piracy efforts and found them to be highly successful at combatting criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain.

In December 2017, The 614 Group released a study commissioned by TAG showing that the use of TAG Certified distribution channels for digital advertising reduced the level of fraud by more than 83% in comparison to broader industry averages. The study was conducted by examining more than 6.5 billion display and video impressions in campaigns run through TAG Certified Channels by three major media agencies for their clients. …

Similarly, a 2017 Ernst & Young study commission by TAG found that anti-piracy steps taken by the digital advertising industry – including the TAG Certified Against Piracy Program – have reduced ad revenue for pirate sites by between 48 and 61 percent, which represents notable progress against the $2.4 billion problem of infringing content. …

This research proves that when the industry works together, it is possible to solve even the most nefarious threats in the digital marketplace.

A full video of the hearing can be found here.

GroupM’s Montgomery: Improve Brand Safety by Adopting TAG Anti-Piracy Standards

In an MediaVillage op-ed titled “Brand Safety: A Path to Victory in Fighting Content Pirates,” John Montgomery, GroupM’s Executive Vice President of Brand Safety, called on every company in the digital advertising industry to improve brand safety by using TAG Certified companies for their anti-piracy services. An excerpt from that op-ed follows:

We've made tremendous progress in recent years with our industry's fight to improve brand safety.  In one of the most important fronts in that war -- inadvertent brand association with pirated content and intellectual property -- we are moving closer to victory, a goal we can reach if every marketer agrees to take a single additional step to raise its standards and end the flow of money to the criminals.

As background, I've been deeply involved in collective efforts to stop ad-supported revenue from enriching criminals who profit from the theft of intellectual property over the last several years.  Among those efforts, GroupM teamed up with companies from every part of the advertising industry to form the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an organization created to fight criminals, protect brands and shore up the integrity of the digital ad supply chain.

Through a pledge organized by TAG and promoted by GroupM, many participating brands and agencies pledged to take "reasonable steps" to keep their ads off pirate sites, a meaningful first step in demonstrating awareness of this massive, multi-pronged problem in the online ecosystem.  Today, GroupM is calling on companies to take the next step in that effort by publicly committing to use TAG Certified Against Piracy partners to ensure their ads meet that pledge. …

By raising the bar for ourselves and our partners, we can cut off the remaining flow of money to the criminals who steal our intellectual property and take a vital step in protecting our brands.  Now that we have these criminals on the ropes, let's knock them out for good.

The full op-ed can be found at Media Village.

TAG Signs European Commission MoU to Help Prevent Digital Piracy

Earlier this week, TAG signed a new European Commission’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Online Advertising and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the culmination of many years work and discussion between the European Commission, the digital advertising sector and the creative content community. TAG encourages its members to add their signatures to the MoU to show their support.

Companies can demonstrate their compliance with the MoU through TAG’s Certified Against Piracy program, a strong validation of the TAG program’s effectiveness. The MoU commits brand advertisers and companies engaged in digital advertising to minimize the placement of advertisements on digital properties and thus reduce the revenues that such properties gain from digital advertising revenue.

“TAG has worked with the European Commission and industry to help take this important step in tackling ad-funded piracy,” said Nick Stringer, Vice President of Global Engagement & Operations at TAG. “We encourage companies to demonstrate their adherence to the MoU by meeting the requirements of TAG’s Certified Against Piracy Program. We look forward to continuing to work with the European Commission, the digital ad sector and the creative content community in addressing this issue.”


From Rachel Nyswander Thomas, TAG SVP for Operations and Policy, on “The Data Protection Dilemma: How Can Brands Stay Safe?” in

But are poor data collection habits enough to make viewers turn away from a site? Panelist Rachel Nyswander Thomas of the Trustworthy Accountability Group thinks viewers send a different message when they avoid ads.

“There’s a very interesting interplay between what consumers feel about data usage and what they feel about the actual content and experience of the ad,” Nyswander Thomas said. “I think we look at ad blockers and things like that and we think they’re concerned about privacy, and I think that’s not actually what’s going on. I think they’re annoyed about it. It’s a terrible experience, right, of the ad, or whatever else, or even not able to get to the content, or the content’s covered, or whatever…If we are engaging them in the way that they want to begin with, that is a means of trust-building around everything else, as well. And I think that makes data protection and dealing with those kinds of situations a lot easier, if the consumer is actually happy with the way they’re able to engage with you in the first place.”

From Jason Fairchild, Chief Revenue Officer of OpenX, in Adweek:

Ronald Reagan once famously declared that America’s nuclear policy toward Russia was to “trust but verify” that the world power was acting transparently and following through on their commitments. The same is true for advertising today where far too many actors talk the talk on quality but fail to make even the most basic investment.

Verification procedures, like certification through the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), were created to fight fraud and other criminal activity in the space. Certified companies, particularly those who take the extra step of independent certification, have made longstanding commitments to quality in the industry and bear a mark of trust among publishers and advertisers. Advertisers looking to cut ad fraud by more than 80 percent can make one simple change: require that their advertising dollars only flow through TAG-certified partners.

From Oliver Whitten, COO of Adform, in ExchangeWire:  

Brand safety still continues to be a concern for advertisers, but the market has come a long way – initiatives such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) Anti-Fraud Registry, the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) Viewability Guidelines, plus the Good Practice Principles set out by JICWEBS and the DTSG have helped ensure quality, transparency, and accountability. Now we have greater awareness and understanding of best practice; this is becoming part of daily operations, although this progress is absolutely incumbent on everyone in the ecosystem remaining vigilant and continuing to invest. One of the historical challenges was that tools were not necessarily in place to make the discovery of bad actors/vendors a more readily accessible process. These initiatives bring light to the industry and make it increasingly easy to flag and avoid bad actors and their enablers.

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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