FAQs: Find out more about getting Gold Standard certified

Posted on Wednesday 06 April 2022 | IAB UK

What are the benefits of being Gold Standard certified? Does it cost? And what’s the process to get certified? We answer all your key questions

1. What is the Gold Standard?

The Gold Standard is an industry initiative run by IAB UK that aims to reduce ad fraud, uphold brand safety, improve the user experience, and help compliance with GDPR e-privacy law. It does this by combining existing industry initiatives and tools from TAG, IAB Tech Lab, the Coalition for Better Ads and IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework.


2. How long has the Gold Standard been around?

The Gold Standard launched in 2017, following a high-profile brand safety investigation that revealed advertisers had unwittingly been appearing alongside illegal content online. The core aims of the first iteration of the Gold Standard were to address ad fraud via the implementation of IAB Tech Labs’ ads.txt, brand safety via TAG’s Brand Safety Certification and improving the user experience by adhering to The Coalition for Better Ads’ advertising standards

A second iteration of the Gold Standard (Gold Standard 2.0) launched in 2020, incorporating IAB Europe’s Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) as well as IAB Tech Lab’s sellers.json and OpenRTB SupplyChain Object into the criteria. Given the current ruling from the Belgian DPA, the APD regarding the TCF, and IAB Europe’s appeal of it, the Gold Standard is exempting the TCF criteria from March 2022 but requires a commitment to implement the updated TCF within 6 months of its release. If you are already a Gold Standard certified member using the TCF, no immediate changes are needed as a result of the APD’s ruling. Read our FAQs here

In October 2022, we launched the latest version of the Gold Standard, which incorporates tools into the criteria to strengthen end-to-end transparency in the digital advertising supply chain. The new version also broadens the scope of the Gold Standard to include CTV, audio and gaming companies. Find out more about it here


3. What are the benefits to being Gold Standard certified?

Being Gold Standard certified demonstrates to advertisers that you’re committed to upholding industry best practice and creating a sustainable future for digital advertising. Many media agencies make it a condition that the partners they work with are Gold Standard certified, while our cohort of Gold Standard advertiser supporters – including Unilever, Tesco, McDonald’s and Nationwide – pledge to work with Gold Standard certified digital ad suppliers wherever possible.


4. How much does it cost to be a part of the Gold Standard?

The only costs associated with the Gold Standard are the TAG Brand Safety certification and the audit conducted by ABC.


5. What is TAG & how much does the Brand Safety Certification cost?

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) is “the leading global initiative fighting criminal activity and increasing trust in the digital advertising industry.” TAG was created by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). It has merged with the UK’s cross-industry, independent body (previously known as JICWEBS) to work collaboratively with companies throughout the digital ad supply chain. TAG advances its mission of eliminating fraudulent traffic, facilitating the sharing of threat intelligence, and promoting brand safety by connecting industry leaders, analysing threats, and sharing best practices worldwide.

Part of the IAB Gold Standard criteria is to obtain a TAG Brand Safety certification. TAG’s Brand Safety Certification programme aims to significantly reduce the risk of the misplacement of advertising on digital media of all types, thereby upholding brand safety and protecting the integrity of digital advertising.

The cost of getting TAG brand safety certified is dependent on your company income, so it varies from company to company, but prices start from £3,000 a year. As part of TAG certification, your company will have to get audited by ABC, which will come at an additional cost. Similar to TAG, the cost is dependent on company income.


6. Is the Gold Standard process independently audited?

Yes - ABC independently audits the Gold Standard certification process every year. In summer 2023, it concluded that previous recommendations regarding the implementation and communication of the renewal process have been completed, as well as recommendations for the addition of an appeals process. It notes that the IAB team continues to explore ways to improve processes, including the potential automation of spot checks throughout the year to ensure companies' continued compliance with the key areas of Gold Standard requirements.
Simon Redlich, Chief Executive at ABC, commented: “We’re delighted to apply our audit expertise to validate the IAB UK’s Gold Standard processes. These procedures underpin this important industry initiative and our independent audit provides an added layer of reassurance that the Gold Standard certification process is rigorous and effective.” The next audit is due in 2024. If you have any questions about this process, please contact [email protected]


7. How do Gold Standard renewals work?

The Gold Standard is assessed on an annual basis. We ask certified companies to submit the required evidence to stay up to date with the latest iteration of the Gold Standard.


8. What is the process for becoming Gold Standard certified?

  • You start by completing the registration form
  • Following this, you will receive a registration confirmation email with the compliance grid for your company category marking the beginning of your six month registration period
  • During this time, you will receive support from the Gold Standard team should you have any queries that need answering
  • You have the choice to submit all your evidence at once, or a bit at a time
  • Following the complete review of evidence, you will receive an email to confirm your completion of the certification, along with a PR pack for your website and social media channels
  • Your company will then get listed on the ‘certified and registered’ list on the IAB UK website, so everyone knows you have completed the certification


9. How long does the process take?

We give each company six months from their registration date to complete certification - the amount of time it takes to complete the Gold Standard certification is subjective and varies from company to company depending on the resource you have available.


10. What category does my company fall into?

The following types of company can be Gold Standard certified:

  • Direct seller = Publisher
  • Buy Side Support = DSP
  • Sell Side Support = SSP
  • Full-Service Support: Companies that offer a managed service to facilitate the buying of inventory using their own proprietary technology
  • Buyer Activation = Companies that offer a managed service to facilitate the buying of inventory using external self-serve buying platform(s)
  • Buyer Planner = Companies who plan the media strategy on behalf of a brand or agency

If you are unsure about what category your company falls into, please send an email to [email protected] and we will be happy to arrange a call with you.


11. What does it mean to be a Gold Standard advertiser supporter? 

While brands can’t become Gold Standard certified, we do have a cohort of Gold Standard advertiser supporters that pledge to work with Gold Standard certified digital ad suppliers wherever possible. Our Gold Standard advertiser supporters include: Adidas, ASDA, Coca-Cola, Coty, Gousto, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Just Eat, Mattel, McDonald’s, Nationwide, Tails.com, Tesco, Unilever, Vodafone, Upfield. Find out more about becoming a Gold Standard advertiser supporter here

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