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IAB CEO: 'we have to look at the long-term health of our industry'


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

June 7, 2018 | 5 min read

The IAB will use its Engage conference to announce that 27 companies have now been awarded the IAB Gold Standard as part of an initiative to improve the quality of digital advertising, as well as separate CSR schemes including a tie-up with mental health charity Mind.

The trade body will use its annual flagship conference, hosted today (June 7) to reveal the latest status update of the initiative which encourages adtech companies and publishers to reduce ad fraud, bolster brand safety plus improve the consumer experience of online advertising by discarding “bad ad” formats.

Initially launched nine months ago, the IAB Gold Standard has currently been awarded to 27 companies including some of the industry’s largest names, such as Google, Oath and AppNexus, as well as the UK’s best-known publishers including News UK, Trinity Mirror, The Guardian and Telegraph Media Group*.

In a statement announcing the update, Jon Mew, IAB chief executive officer, said the day's proceedings were geared towards encouraging the industry to ensure it is "Moving Forward."

He added: "The IAB has a mandate to celebrate the successes of our members and the broader industry. However, we also have an obligation to support industry in tackling issues where we see room for improvement.

"Whether that’s through initiatives like the Gold Standard and tackling inclusiveness and diversity head-on, through to ensuring the industry takes mental health seriously, it is imperative on us all to work hard to deliver a robust and sustainable future for digital advertising."

Speaking with The Drum ahead of the conference Mew added: “It’s probably the first time we’ve been able to get all the significant players in the market to come together and commit to improving standards across the industry.”

Jon Mew speaking ahead of IAB Engage

He further went on to describe how the process of encouraging companies to implement the IAB Gold Standard has not been without challenges, and further encouraged digital advertising executives to take a collectivist approach to their business decisions.

“One of the things with the Gold Standard is that it can cost some of the companies that are signing up to it in the short-term, as it [Gold Standard implementation] can mean that the business changes what they do – such as companies stop serving certain ad units – and that can be difficult,” added Mew.

“You have to convince people that the long-term impact is more important than the short-term, and I think that something we [as a collective] have to do is look at the long-term health of our industry ... that’s not always an easy thing for businesses to do, as people are always under pressure to hit their revenue numbers.“

An additional 61 companies are registered with a maximum of six months to complete their certification, with Mew further explaining to The Drum that the next phase of the initiative would focus on helping holding group companies to implement the necessary measure to be awarded the IAB Gold Standard.

The necessary criteria to be awarded this status includes:

1. Reducing ad fraud by adopting the ADS.txt initiative.

2. Increasing brand safety through the JICWEBS DTSG Good Practice Principles.

3. Improving the digital advertising experience by adhering to the LEAN ad standards and avoiding the use of the 12 'bad ad' formats identified by the Coalition for Better Advertising.

Meanwhile, the trade body also used its flagship event to further detail a CSR-drive with Mind to better promote mental health among members of the industry.

In April, IAB UK was awarded a Silver in Mind’s ‘Workplace Wellbeing Index’, a benchmark of best policy and practice, which encourages employers to promote and support mental health among their employees by driving awareness of such issues.

As part of this partnership, the IAB will host a hack day to crowdsource ideas from the membership to drive awareness of mental health issues within the digital advertising industry and the support available.

Commenting on the partnership, Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Our Index of almost 44,000 employees, has found that almost half (48%) had experienced poor mental health, such as stress, low mood, and anxiety, which underlines the importance of offering a supportive working environment for all employees.

"IAB’s Silver Index Award shows their commitment to making mental health a priority. They are ideally placed to inspire the broader digital industry to take these issues seriously and we are excited to see the projects we develop together to address workplace wellbeing.”

Separately, the trade body will also use the conference to announce the launch of an IAB Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Group to encourage, support and promote best practice around diversity and inclusion. This will cover everything from recruitment and employee best practices, training and other initiatives that will help member companies address this essential issue.

The final announcement at Engage 2018 was that IAB UK has been recognised as a Carbon Neutral Organisation by the Carbon Footprint Standard. The organisation has offset their footprint by reducing energy emissions and planting trees in the UK as well as supporting efforts in protecting the Amazon rainforest.

*See here for a complete list of companies to have been awarded the IAB Gold Standard as of June 7: AppNexus, AutoTrader, Bauer Media UK, Crimtan, ESI Media, Google - AdExchange, Google - YouTube, GroundTruth, Guardian, Immediate Media, Inskin Media, Mail Metro Media, MiQ, News UK, Oath, Precise TV, RhythmOne, Samsung (Smart TV), Sovrn, Teads, Telegraph Media Group, The Student Room, Time Inc. UK, Trinity Mirror, TripAdvisor, Vevo, Weve

Click here for more details about the proceedings at the IAB Engage conference

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