P&G have raised the bar for the industry – and it’s great news

P&G are leading the drive towards industry-wide adoption of the TAG verification program. It's a clear signal that the industry must move faster argues Stephen Upstone, CEO & Founder of LoopMe.

Stephen Upstone

“At P&G, we decided this is an area for outside experts who have a much higher probability of staying ahead of the criminals than we ever will.” 

“We’re getting help from the Trustworthy Accountability Group, or TAG, a joint initiative of the ANA, 4As, and IAB. This is a powerful self-regulatory body aimed at eliminating fraudulent advertising and its partners in crime, such as sites that steal copyrighted content from our supply chain. We are insisting that any entity touching digital media must get TAG-certified during 2017 to help ensure they are free from fraud.”

Marc Pritchard, P&G

In a speech at the IAB’s annual leadership meeting last week, Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer for P&G made his stance on tackling ad fraud very clear. Anyone wanting to touch a P&G digital campaign this year must be certified by TAG and commit to fraud-free, piracy-free, malware-free advertising. 

The TAG program, which launched last year in the US, is the first organisation committed to seriously tackling fraud in the digital advertising industry, allowing advertising to be tracked throughout the supply chain, effectively highlighting and eliminating criminal activity. 

Any reputable tech vendor should already have the systems TAG requires in place, anything less implies a concerning lack of regard for their customers. 

But the move by P&G to be vocal about the importance of TAG, is important. As an industry which prides itself on innovation and agility, advertising can be slow to adopt practices which make life a bit more difficult. The news in the Times this week, where banner ads for brands including Waitrose, Mercedes-Benz and Sandals have appeared against content which is not brand safe, has been seen many times before, yet certain platforms are still not taking the technical steps needed to eliminate the possibility of this occurring. 

The solutions are available, pre-bid filters, keyword blocks on video and editorial content, bundle ID blacklisting, as well as partnering with a series of specialists like Forensiq, Moat, Integral Ad Science and Double Verify, are just a few ways brand safety can be guaranteed. It’s worth noting that partnering with more than one service is beneficial, they all work in slightly different ways and have complementary offerings.

P&G’s stance will propel the inventory forward, but it should not be up to brands to make these decisions. When they buy digital advertising they should expect to be delivered a service which meets the high standards that we, as consumers, expect from their products. 

Delivering ads in brand safe environments does far more than keep the client happy. It removes a source of income for criminals, it promotes and pays for high-quality original content, it funds our press. Technology vendors should be queuing up for TAG verification, and if they are not, the question has to be asked – why not?

It is time for the industry to change, to move forward. Marc Pritchard has, quite rightly, raised the bar and it can only mean great things for the advertising industry.

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