Gold Standard 2.1 to bring increased transparency to digital supply chain

Posted on Tuesday 18 October 2022 | IAB UK

As well as improving end-to-end transparency in the digital advertising supply chain, the latest version of the Gold Standard also widens the scope of the initiative to include audio, gaming and CTV 

IAB UK has launched the latest version of the Gold Standard, which incorporates new criteria to strengthen end-to-end transparency within the digital advertising supply chain. Improving supply chain transparency is an ongoing cross-industry priority and trade bodies including the Advertising Association, ISBA (representing brands) and The IPA (representing agencies) are vocally backing the latest version of the Gold Standard, which adds rigour to the existing framework.

The overriding aim of the Gold Standard, which first launched in 2017, is to bring together industry initiatives that address challenges in online advertising - including ad fraud, brand safety and ad bombardment. The evolved criteria - which launched after a period of industry consultation - introduces new requirements focused on improving transparency within digital advertising. 


What does Gold Standard 2.1 introduce? 

Companies certified under the new criteria must commit to implementing IAB Tech Labs’ Buyers.json and DemandChain Object to help address the challenge of scam ads and bring transparency to programmatic transactions. Tech Labs’ Open Measurement SDK (OMSDK) has also been added, to help facilitate third-party viewability and verification measurement for ads served in web video and app environments. Meanwhile, the new criteria incorporates an upgrade of ads.txt, with certified companies needing to adhere to ads.txt 1.1. 


Who can be certified under Gold Standard 2.1?

Significantly, the latest launch broadens the scope of companies that can become Gold Standard certified. Audio, CTV and gaming businesses are now eligible for certification, reflecting the growing diversification of digital channels. This is in addition to display and video advertising, which have been covered by the Gold Standard since it first launched in 2017. 

Publishers, platforms, ad tech providers and media agencies are all eligible for Gold Standard certification. Advertisers cannot be Gold Standard certified, but can help to improve standards in digital advertising by becoming Gold Standard supporters and encouraging their suppliers to be Gold Standard certified.


Who are the first companies to be Gold Standard 2.1 certified? 

The first IAB UK members to be certified under the new criteria, announced at the time of launch, are: Activision Blizzard Media, Auto-Trader, Global, GroupM, Hearst, Index Exchange, Magnite, Meta, Omnicom Media Group, The Guardian and TikTok. 

Companies that are already Gold Standard certified under the 2.0 criteria have a year (from October 2022)  to renew their certification under the 2.1 criteria. If you’re not yet Gold Standard certified, find out more about registering here


What does the IAB say? 

Commenting on the launch, IAB UK’s CEO Jon Mew said: “Bringing greater transparency to the digital advertising supply chain is a key priority for our industry and something our members are committed to helping deliver. By incorporating these new steps into the Gold Standard, we’re taking a significant step towards that and it’s brilliant that the first companies to be certified come from across the digital ecosystem. This is further reinforced by the support for the Gold Standard from the AA, ISBA and IPA, and shows that our industry is pulling in the same direction for real, effective change.”


What do IAB UK members say? 

Azma Gohar, Director of Compliance at Index Exchange, said: “The IAB Gold Standard has provided a framework for transparency in the programmatic supply chain, and ultimately helped achieve greater trust with industry partners. “The expanded focus on privacy compliance and buy-side transparency in version 2.1 helps to further build on that. We’re proud to be an early adopter of the Gold Standard 2.1, and to continue our work of making the programmatic supply chain more accountable.”

Nick Pestell, Director, Head of Industry at Meta, added: “Meta have been proud supporters of the Gold Standard since its launch and are delighted to be one of the early adopters of 2.1. Trust and transparency are key to the success of the digital ecosystem and the latest iteration of the Gold Standard provides a framework which helps quantify this for all our partners.”

Philippe Ma, VP, Strategy & Operations at Activision Blizzard Media, commented: “Transparency and accountability are critical in ensuring the sustainability of digital advertising. The expansion of the IAB’s Gold Standard certification to include gaming publishers is an important step forward in our constantly evolving industry and reflects the increased demand from brands for quality in-game advertising experiences. As a leader in in-game advertising, Activision Blizzard Media is proud to be one of the first gaming companies certified under these new standards, which recognizes our commitment to providing robust measurement and transparency standards to all of our partners and gaming experiences to our players.”

Mark Halliday, Commercial Director of DAX at Global, said: "Data driven and digital advertising continues to evolve at a rapid pace, so the inclusion of more diversified channels in the IAB’s Gold Standard initiative is very welcome. We are proud to have been included in the consultation period to help represent the views and standards the industry and advertisers deserve in audio. We are equally proud to have been included as one of the launch partners for Gold Standard 2.1, demonstrating our commitment to transparency and best-in-class standards in the digital media industry."

What does the rest of the industry say? 

Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association said: “A key mission of the Advertising Association and its members is to help the industry improve the public’s trust in advertising, across all media. In the digital space, the Gold Standard has been a key part of this since we launched our trust action plan, so we are delighted to see it evolving to incorporate the latest ad fraud prevention tools, expanding its remit to incorporate a more diverse range of digital channels and, above all, taking steps to improve supply chain transparency. I’d encourage all businesses within our industry to get behind and support the Gold Standard, as we collectively work towards improving trust in advertising.”

Steve Chester, ISBA’s Director of Media, added: “The inclusion of advertiser and domain identity to supply chain transparency is a very welcome addition to the IAB Gold Standard brand safety aim, and builds on the excellent advances that sellers.json has already introduced to the market. Transparency in the programmatic supply chain continues to improve through technology innovations like these and cross-industry collaboration and we are fully supportive of the IAB’s continued strengthening and development of the Gold Standard across ad fraud, brand safety and bombardment.”

Nigel Gwilliam, Director of Media Affairs at the IPA, said: “We’re really pleased to see the IAB’s Gold Standard expand its remit to include steps that improve transparency within digital advertising. Building on the foundations of brand safety and addressing ad fraud, a more transparent ecosystem is better for all parts of the industry and we’re especially pleased to see greater commitment to best practice in the form of third-party verification.”

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