The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) has released updated compliance guidelines for its anti-fraud and anti-piracy programs. Among them is a new requirement that publishers implement the ads.txt standard to become TAG Certified Against Fraud.
Founded by the ANA, 4A’s and IAB, TAG offers marketers a way of verifying companies as legitimate members of the digital advertising industry.
Ads.txt is the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab’s answer to inventory sales fraud. Publishers add a text file called—you guessed it—Ads.txt to their web servers that lists all of the companies authorized to sell ads on their behalf. This allows buyers to visit the text file and ensure they are purchasing from valid third parties.
For marketers hoping to purchase from multiple publishers, IAB Tech Lab released a web crawler last year that speeds up the process.
TAG CEO Mike Zaneis says these new guidelines will “put teeth” in the ads.txt initiative by requiring publishers to adopt it as a Certified Against Fraud Seal prerequisite. In addition, the new requirements will move the ad buying and publisher communities “from support to action.”
In addition to the new Ads.txt requirement, direct ad buyers must complete TAG Registration, be a TAG member in good standing, have a designated TAG compliance officer, attend annual anti-piracy training, comply with and fully operationalize TAG’s Anti-Piracy Pledge and employ pirate mobile app filtering for all advertising displayed in a mobile app environment.
Publishers hoping to receive the TAG Certified Against Fraud seal must also meet the TAG Registration, good standing, compliance officer and training requirements, as well as ensuring that their properties do not block or unduly restrict the use of anti-piracy software. Based on the degree to which publishers host user-generated content, additional requirements may apply.
These new requirements will go into effect and be subject to TAG enforcement on July 1. New applicants for the TAG Certified Against Fraud seal will be will be evaluated against the updated guidelines. Companies that currently hold the Certified Against Fraud and/or Certified Against Piracy Seals, however, must come into compliance by that time.
It is estimated that marketers lose around $7.2 billion per year to ad fraud, piracy and malware. Last year, Proctor & Gamble—a company that spends over $7 billion per year on advertising—announced that it would no longer buy media from companies who are not TAG certified.
A March 2017 report by Forrester says that programmatic media and video are the primary causes of ad fraud spending “wastage.” If the problem is not addressed, that number may grow to $10.9 billion by 2021, the company warns.
Thus far, studies have found TAG’s Certified Against Fraud and Certified Against Piracy Programs effective against criminal activities. A December study conducted by The 614 Group tested the theory that using only TAG Certified channels would reduce or eliminate invalid traffic when compared to the industry average. Running impressions through TAG Certified channels resulted in a reduction of invalid traffic by 83 percent.