Facebook and Instagram have attained the IAB's Gold Standard certificate as the social network looks to show clients it's serious about reducing ad fraud, improving the digital ad experience and addressing brand safety concerns.
Initially launched nine months ago, the IAB Gold Standard has already been awarded to 27 companies including some of the industry’s biggest programmatic players – like Google, Oath and AppNexus – as well as publishers including News UK, Trinity Mirror and The Guardian.
It aims to to raise standards in online advertising order to create a “sustainable future” for the industry.
Facebook was among players like Twitter, News UK and Google to pledge that it would work towards the Gold Standard when it was first announced a few months ago. Since April, platforms have been slowly achieving the best practices laid out by the IAB in order to receive the accreditation.
Among the conditions are that companies must adhere to the IAB LEAN principles, and the Coalition for Better Ads standards. They also have to work with the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) with a view to becoming certified or maintaining certification for increasing brand safety.
In addition, platforms have to reduce ad fraud by using the ads.txt initiative on all sites carrying ads. Created by the IAB Tech Lab, ads.txt encourages publishers to give buyers access to a simple text document which lists the resellers authorised to sell publishers' inventory.
Because Facebook's inventory can only be purchased from the company itself, and not via other programmatic exchanges, there are no authorised re-sellers listed on the company's ads.txt page, but nonetheless it has adhered to all three tenets set by the IAB.
The move from Facebook is a clear signal it wants to assuage advertiser concerns, following 18 months of headlines around ad misplacement within its walls, a lack of transparency over user numbers and concerns about measurement and fraud in the wider digital ecosystem.
When it comes to brand safety in particular, the vast majority (94%) of advertisers are still worried about it, with almost half saying they don’t think platforms like Facebook and YouTube were doing enough to tackle it.
Commenting on the Gold Standard certification, Steve Hatch vice-president of Facebook for Northern Europe said: "Companies are relying on us to work together as an industry to give advertisers the information and tools they need to understand the true business value of digital advertising, and to ensure this advertising appears in brand safe environments."
He added that the IAB's accreditation represented "a substantial move from the industry to provide a unified rigor" to the diverse landscape of digital advertising.
"We support the initiative and continue to work with the IAB and its wider steering groups to help create greater effectiveness and the greatest possible value for businesses both large and small," he continued.