Gold Standard 2.0: Our next step towards building a sustainable future for digital advertising

Tim Elkington - Chief Digital Officer, IAB UK

As Gold Standard 2.0 launches, IAB UK’s Chief Digital Officer Tim Elkington outlines what’s new and calls on members to get involved

When we launched the Gold Standard in 2017, it had one overarching aim: To help us build a sustainable future for the digital advertising industry by addressing core challenges within the ecosystem. Three years later, as we release Gold Standard 2.0, that mission still holds true. We have come a long way since we certified those first companies - thanks to the commitment of our members to embrace the core principles of the Gold Standard and drive change throughout the industry - and there are almost 100 certifications currently in place. But there is still work to be done and today, with the launch of Gold Standard 2.0, we’re taking the next step by strengthening the criteria and increasing the scope of the initiative.

So what does Gold Standard 2.0 encompass? In a nutshell, we’re making sure transparency is held to just as high a standard as brand safety. Originally, the Gold Standard brought together existing industry initiatives to address three core issues: brand safety, ad fraud and the user experience. This still remains the case but, by incorporating IAB Europe’s Transparency & Consent Framework into the criteria for Gold Standard 2.0, we’re setting out to address privacy concerns and improve transparency within digital advertising. This isn’t a new focus for us, but by making it part of the Gold Standard, we want to accelerate progress in this area. 

As the industry navigates profound changes and encounters new challenges, it’s vital that the Gold Standard stays relevant and keeps pace with wider developments. By setting out to improve transparency and users’ privacy, we benefit all legitimate parties within the digital supply chain and can collectively create a digital ad ecosystem that delivers for all parties - not least the end user. 

Additionally, we’ve also strengthened the ad fraud element of the Gold Standard by incorporating IAB Tech Lab’s sellers.json and OpenRTB SupplyChain Object. Evolving the criteria to incorporate these latest solutions and encourage their widespread adoption is our best strategy to continue cracking down on ad fraud as a collective. 

In tandem with the launch of this more rigorous criteria, we continue to bolster our alliance of Gold Standard advertiser supporters and are delighted that Unilever and COTY are the latest brands to throw their weight behind the initiative. In doing so they join the likes of ASDA, Nationwide, Vodafone and Coca Cola - to a name a few - that have publicly committed to only use Gold Standard certified digital ad suppliers wherever possible. 

This matters because it’s only by prioritising and investing in the companies that are proactively choosing to adhere to these cross-industry standards that we can effect real and lasting change. It’s significant to note that Gold Standard companies grew at more than twice the rate of non-certified companies (21% vs 9%) last year, according to 2019’s Adspend report, demonstrating that advertisers continue to value the safety and quality that the Gold Standard offers. This is arguably even more important now - as brands squeeze ad budgets and navigate the challenges of COVID-19, ensuring that investment is effective and efficient is paramount.

So today, with the launch of Gold Standard 2.0, we’re once again calling on our members to get involved. We know that the Gold Standard isn’t a silver bullet - such a thing doesn’t exist - nor is it the end product, but it undoubtedly encourages adoption of key industry standards and collectively helps us to uphold shared values of transparency, privacy and brand safety.  One of the key strengths of the Gold Standard is that it has, from the outset, been designed to adapt and evolve as the industry does. Now, with this latest version, we can push forwards and drive further change within the digital supply chain - taking the next step as we work to build a sustainable future for our industry.

Written by

Tim Elkington

Chief Digital Officer, IAB UK


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