GroupM and Publicis Media have become the first two major media holding groups to attain the Gold Standard certification set by the UK Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) – committing to reduce ad fraud and increase brand safety.
Launched in January, the trade body's Gold Standard has been awarded to 55 companies since its inception, with a further 37 in the process of completing the certification process.
Publicis Media and GroupM's digital programmatic services join the likes of Google, Oath, AppNexus and the Guardian in having met the stipulations set by the IAB in order to create a "sustainable future" for the digital industry.
Bethan Crockett, senior director of brand safety and digital risk, GroupM EMEA, said it was "important that the industry commits widely to implementing best practice standards to demonstrate accountability and to drive quality execution across digital advertising".
Publicis Media UK chief executive, Sue Frogley, agreed, noting it was "incumbent" on the entire media industry to work as a whole to tackle the big issues surrounding the sector.
"We urge our peers and partners to get involved and get certified – after all it will be to the benefit of us all," she added.
The holding company giants have now committed to three steps, including
- reducing ad fraud through the implementation of the ads.txt initiative
- increasing brand safety by working with the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in line with the Display Trading Standards Group's (DTSG) Brand Safety Principles
- improving the digital ad experience for users by adhering to both the LEAN principles and the standards set by the the Coalition for Better Advertising
The IAB said actors on the buy-side, including both agencies and advertisers, play an essential role within the Gold Standard, since they mandate how digital advertising should be delivered.
The move comes as concerns around brand safety and ad fraud continue to wrangle marketers, despite collaborative efforts to iron out issues in the digital supply chain.
Mars, for instance, recently pulled spend from YouTube globally over misplacement issues, stating that it was working with Google and its media buying agencies to "understand what went wrong".
Elsewhere, ad fraud is expected to cost brands $50bn per-year by 2025, according to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).
For now, however, Publicis Media and GroupM are the first two networks to have approached the Gold Standard at a group level.
While the Publicis and WPP-owned media conglomerates were always committed to to achieve the Gold Standard, their completion of the process follows on from criticism from smaller agencies at the lack of media groups signing up for the certification.
Tim Elkington, chief digital officer at the IAB, said: “We are delighted to see two major media buying groups get behind the IAB Gold Standard in such a prominent manner."
Alongside the new network agency certifications, further agency support has come from The7Stars, Amnet Manchester, Goodstuff Communications, Havas, UM London and Xaxis, which have all recently registered their commitment to complete the certification process.