TAG Today - November 2023

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TAG US Fraud Benchmark Study Finds Broad Industry Acceptance of 1% IVT Rate as Industry Standard for Fighting Fraud 

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The digital advertising industry has reached a consensus on a single metric to measure its success in achieving a predictable, consistent, and low fraud rate, according to the 2023 TAG US Fraud Benchmark Study


For the third consecutive year, the study found that invalid traffic (IVT) in TAG Certified Channels (TCCs) in the United States was held under 1%, while interviews with executives from major agency holding companies validated that sub-1% level as the new de facto standard for the industry, with most agencies saying they include it as part of their client contracts. 


“If you’re batting .300, shooting 20 points per game, or passing your way to a 100+ QB rating, you’ve proven yourself among the best of the best at those sports,” said TAG CEO Mike Zaneis. “Now the ad industry has reached consensus on a unified metric to validate the success of our own all-stars at fighting fraud. Interviews from this year’s US Fraud Benchmark Study confirm that our industry has reached a consensus on a sub-1% IVT rate as the appropriate benchmark to validate the effectiveness of a company’s anti-fraud efforts. Happily, the study also shows that TAG Certified Channels have achieved that milestone in the US for the past three years, which is cause for both commendation and continued commitment to vigilance against criminals looking to commit ad fraud.”


According to the study, the IVT rate in TCCs for the first six months of 2023 was 0.82%, even lower than the 0.98% rate measured in the prior year’s study. The IVT rate in Non-Certified Channels (NCCs), where only a single entity was certified, was 46% higher at 1.19%.

The 2023 benchmark study was conducted by The 614 Group, which also conducted interviews with executives from major agency holding companies to add additional first-hand context and information. Among the findings from those qualitative interviews:


  • Agency executives confirmed that the sub-1% benchmark is used by their clients as a standard for success and included in their contracts. They also reported sharing the TAG US Fraud Benchmark Report with roughly 1,500 of their clients across major holding companies to drive engagement and assist with planning.
  • Interviewees felt significant work still needs to be done by the industry around Made for Advertising (MFA) sites, particularly on definitions and measurement, to separate legitimate publishers from bad actors.
  • Agencies are also focused on the opportunities and risks from the rapid integration of AI. While many noted it was too early to predict the full impact of AI, there was a consensus that more education was needed for agency execs and that the technology has a significant potential for good, as well as enabling more malicious activity.

The full 2023 TAG US Fraud Benchmark Report can be found here.

TAG Announces Plans to Expand 2024 US Fraud Benchmark Report to Analyze Upstream IVT Rates Among Major SSPs

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While sharing the results of the 2023 US Fraud Benchmark Report at the Brand Safety Summit New York, TAG COO Rachel Nyswander Thomas announced a major expansion to the scope of the 2024 report.

Thomas reminded the audience that inventory run through TAG Certified Channels (TCCs) is filtered for IVT at least three times in a transaction -- through the SSP, the DSP, the agency, and sometimes even the publisher. However, the industry currently has very little insight into how much IVT is removed at each of those steps. TAG’s 2024 US Fraud Benchmark Report hopes to get a better understanding of IVT from the earliest stages of the process by undertaking an analysis of IVT rates among major SSPs, so the industry has a more holistic view of the work done across the supply chain to prevent IVT.  

“It’s a truism in research that where you measure matters, and we suspect that may prove true when measuring fraud in the digital advertising supply chain,” said Thomas. “One would assume that there is more fraud or IVT as you move downstream in the supply chain towards publishers and SSPs because fewer rounds of filtration have taken place, and the rate decreases upstream with buyers as campaigns are filtered through MRC-accredited vendors and platforms in TAG Certified Channels, but this issue has not been thoroughly investigated or quantified to date. In 2024, TAG intends to put this hypothesis to the test and see whether - and how much - IVT varies at different points in the supply chain.”

TAG member companies interested in participating in the SSP research portion of the 2024 US Fraud Benchmark Report should contact info@tagtoday.com for additional information.


TAG’s “Member Spotlight” Series Features Nexxen’s Karim Rayes and Activision Blizzard Media’s Cynthia Ramos

In November, the TAG “Member Spotlight” series released two new in-depth conversations with industry leaders about their backgrounds, companies, and perspectives on the industry.

Nexxen’s Karim Rayes spoke with TAG’s Vanessa Goff-Yu about potential threats in emerging channels, the brand safety questions Nexxen receives from clients, and the channels those questions involve. Karim also discussed Nexxen's strategy for ensuring brand safety isn't compromised as the business expands. 


Activision Blizzard Media’s Cynthia Ramos joined Vanessa to talk about gaming advertising, the expanse of the mobile gaming market, newer pitfalls advertisers should be aware of when it comes to in-game advertising, and the importance of brand safety measures in a new channel like gaming advertising.

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Member Spotlight

TAG on the Dais: Brand Safety Summit New York

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Mike Lyden leads a panel with Samantha Stetson, Meta’s Vice President of Client Council and Industry Trade Relations, and Ben Nimmo, Meta’s Global Lead for Threat Intelligence, on “Tackling Threats to Responsible Media Environments.”


From “Ad Tech Companies Are Getting Graded on Log-File Transparency” in AdExchanger:


TAG TrustNet is publishing its first register of ad tech companies that share log-file data, don’t share log files and kinda sorta share log-level data. …

The register rates companies as either green, red or yellow, meaning they provide the TAG group’s required data for log-level transparency, flat out don’t provide log files, are developing log-file data products or just haven’t gotten back to TAG. (There isn’t much nuance with simple ratings: Green means go! Red means stop!)

Green-rated vendors still might have huge differences in their log-file data quality. The yellow rating, in particular, could mean different things, like the vendor provides some data, is working on products that will provide transparency or perhaps provides all the data and hasn’t integrated yet with TrustNet. …

The idea is to establish a “minimum threshold” to meet transparency requirements that advertisers are pressing for, [Fiducia CEO Tim] Brown said.

One advertiser that’s participated with TrustNet on the log-file register is Kenvue, the consumer brand spinout from Johnson & Johnson.

Kenvue has been generally focusing on in-housing more of the ad agency and ad tech operations and in simplifying its ad supply chain, said Ander Lopez Ochoa, the brand’s EMEA head of digital, content, media and ecommerce marketing.

Still, he said, since initiating the program 18 months ago and focusing on working with vendors that would be rated green, Kenvue has reduced its SSP contracts in the EMEA region from 40 in 2022 to only four today. …

Kenvue has seen CPM reductions of up to 30% by simplifying the vendors and domains it spends ad dollars on. It culled the field based on which vendors provide the necessary log-file data and which have the lowest take rates.


From “The Cat-and-Mouse Game of Ad Fraud: Staying Ahead of Threats” in ExchangeWire:


Moreover, industry collaborations and initiatives, such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and ads.txt, are establishing stringent verification and authentication processes to ensure that ad inventory is sourced from legitimate publishers. 

Industry players are increasingly recognising the need to collaborate in the fight against ad fraud. Recent initiatives, such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), have demonstrated the industry's commitment to establishing standardised practices and guidelines. TAG's efforts, for instance, have led to a notable 84% reduction in fraud in TAG Certified distribution channels, according to their 2022 report.

The significance of industry-wide cooperation lies not only in mitigating financial losses but also in safeguarding the reputation and credibility of digital advertising. By sharing insights, experiences, and best practices, stakeholders can collectively bolster their defenses against fraudulent activities. This collaborative approach not only facilitates the early detection and prevention of ad fraud but also fosters a more transparent and trustworthy ecosystem for advertisers and consumers alike.


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