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TAG Brings Ad Leaders Together To Launch War On Digital Ad Fraud

October 29, 2015

New Two-Part “Verified by TAG” Initiative Includes TAG Registry (Available Today) to Identify Responsible Ad Providers and Payment ID (Coming Soon) to Prevent Payments to Fraudsters

Largest Ad Networks and Agencies Pledge Support, Including AppNexus, AOL, Dentsu Aegis Network, Index Exchange, Interpublic, Google, Omnicom, Publicis, Rubicon Project, WPP

NEW YORK, NY – October 29, 2015 – The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to fight criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain, today announced an industry-wide anti-fraud program, Verified by TAG, to fight digital ad fraud and bring new transparency across the digital ad ecosystem. “Verified by TAG” has two core and interlocking elements: the TAG Registry of legitimate advertisers and publishers, which will be available for application today, and a Payment ID system coming soon that will connect all ad inventory to the entities receiving payments for the ads.

Legitimate companies across the supply chain can now apply to the TAG Registry to be verified by TAG as a trusted advertising party. Registered (or “TAG’ed”) companies will receive a TAG-issued identifier that they can share with partners and pass with every ad they buy, process, place or run.

On a parallel track, TAG is currently developing a Payment ID system in cooperation with leading companies in the programmatic space. The goal of the Payment ID system is to create a record of who gets paid for every impression to prevent criminals from receiving ad spend.

Programmatic leaders including AOL, AppNexus, Index Exchange, Google, and Rubicon Project have pledged their support for these dual initiatives, as have the five largest global advertising holding companies, Dentsu Aegis Network, Interpublic, Omnicom, Publicis, and WPP. All of those companies have agreed to encourage their digital partners to take part in both initiatives.

“The TAG Registry and upcoming Payment ID system will act like a ‘two-factor authentication’ for the digital ad supply chain,” said TAG CEO Mike Zaneis. “Through the TAG Registry, buyers will be able to ensure that they are working with trusted parties at every step of their campaigns, while the Payment ID system will ensure that payments only go to legitimate players, choking off the cash to criminals. These programs will serve as the cornerstone of TAG’s anti-fraud efforts by providing transparency across the digital ad ecosystem. Registration is now open, and it’s time for every company in digital advertising to get TAG’ed.”

Companies across the ad ecosystem are encouraged to apply to the TAG Registry. After a proprietary background check and review process, approved companies will receive a unique identifier that will allow them to identify their ads to trading partners in the supply chain. Those identifiers can also be matched with the upcoming Payment ID system to ensure that payments are going to the correct registered and legitimate companies. Registered companies will also be eligible to participate in TAG’s other seal programs to highlight the steps they have taken against fraud, piracy, and malware.

Companies can learn more about TAG’s Anti-Fraud efforts or apply at TAG registration.

About the Trustworthy Accountability Group

The Trustworthy Accountability Group was created to spur transformational improvement at scale across the digital advertising ecosystem, focusing on four core areas: eliminating fraudulent traffic, combating malware, fighting ad-supported Internet piracy to promote brand integrity, and promoting brand safety through greater transparency. For more information on TAG, please visit tagtoday.net.

Quotes from Participating Companies

Megan Pagliuca, CEO of Accuen, Omnicom’s programmatic agency:
“Fraud is a blight on our industry - the only way it will be eradicated is through a collective commitment to zero tolerance. The Tag Registry and Payment ID initiatives are significant steps toward achieving that outcome, and assuring transparency in the digital ad supply chain.”

David Jacobs, Senior Vice President, AOL Platforms:
"For some time, AOL has worked with the IAB and industry partners to combat fraud on two fronts: by deploying the best technologies available and by choking off the economic incentives these bad actors exploit. TAG's registry and payment ID take those efforts even further, putting in place a system to verify digital operators and follow the money trail. The ultimate goal is to ensure greater transparency into the advertising that helps support the free, open Internet, and we are proud to be a charter participant."

Brian O’Kelley, CEO, AppNexus:
“Advertising is the power source of a free and open Internet, and it’s incumbent upon industry leaders to keep the marketplace clean and transparent. This important initiative establishes another layer of accountability that will benefit all actors in the ecosystem, and we’re very pleased to be part of it."

Lucas Cridland, US President, Amplifi, the media investment division of Dentsu Aegis Network:
"Eliminating fraud from the media ecosystem is at the top of our priority list because of the detrimental impact that it has on all involved parties. The launch of TAG and Payment ID is a huge step in the right direction for us and for our clients. We’re proud to take part in an initiative that aids in achieving the levels of transparency and accountability that should have been present from the beginning.”

Scott Spencer, Product Management Director, Google, and Chairman of the TAG Anti-Fraud Working Group:
“Ad fraud is a solvable problem. If the industry continues to work together on projects like this, we can prevent illegitimate sites and traffic providers from taking spend from the ecosystem and help legitimate publishers earn the revenue to support their businesses.”

Ari Bluman, Chief Digital Investment Officer, GroupM:
“Adoption of ‘Verified by Tag’ is a no-brainer to combat fraud and keep ad dollars out of crooks’ pockets. Our own anti-fraud efforts have been labor intensive; TAG is making anti-fraud initiatives more efficient and will ultimately make it much more difficult to build fraudulent businesses by exploiting the digital advertising ecosystem. Going forward, we will only consider inventory from TAG-verified sources and encourage others to do the same.”

Andrew Casale, CEO, Index Exchange:
“Accountability and sunlight are crucial elements of a fully transparent supply chain. Both the TAG registry and Payment ID are strong steps toward achieving them, and through them a mature, principled marketplace. We’re excited to be charter members of both initiatives.”

Gregory R. Raifman, President of Rubicon Project and founding Board Member of TAG:
“As a leader in inventory quality, we have long been committed to providing a clean, well-lit environment for the buying and selling of advertising and stand behind efforts to help elevate the industry and improve the overall advertising ecosystem. These important TAG initiatives represent the latest arrow in our quiver to help ensure advertisers get real value for their dollar whether they are buying on our platform or elsewhere and we look forward to industry-wide implementation.”

Stephan Beringer, CEO of VivaKi (part of the Publicis Groupe):
“Quality, viewability and transparency have been hallmarks of VivaKi since we opened for business in 2007. Through our VivaKi Verified process and Quality Index, we have created an industry leading practice that has vetted thousands of platforms and partners across the digital ecosystem. We applaud the TAG Registry initiative and all of the companies who are standing behind it, and we are eager to bring the rigor of our verification processes to bear on this critical initiative. The investment power represented by this confederation can only advance the principles and standards that have always been strategic pillars for Publicis Groupe.”

Contact:
Andrew Weinstein
for the Trustworthy Accountability Group
202-667-4967
andrewwstn[at]gmail.com

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