The IAB UK is to be more exacting about how it approves companies seeking its Gold Standard certification – introducing a series of updates designed to encourage adtech players to thoroughly review their processes and take action where required.
Having first launched in 2017 amid pressure from brands on agencies, publishers and vendors to clean up the digital ecosystem, the Gold Standard initiative has been getting IAB members to commit to best practices on brand safety, ad fraud and transparency issues for almost two years.
Facebook, Google, Bauer Media, Oath and News UK are among those to have signed up.
However, a more stringent set of rules for those looking to get approved to the scheme will be rolled out in the coming months.
Previously, companies had to show they were registered with Jicwebs and complete an audit within six months, now the IAB has stipulated that companies must be fully certified under the Jicwebs Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) for brand safety before they can receive accreditation.
New thresholds have also been introduced for support of both ads.txt and the Coalition for Better Ads principles. It is now a requirement for both buy-side and sell-side platforms to ensure that 90% of the traffic they deliver includes a valid ads.txt file.
In addition, there is a new criterion to demonstrate a minimum of 99% of the domains platforms work with conform to the Coalition for Better Ads standards. Demonstration of how non-compliant inventory is filtered will need to be provided as part of the Gold Standard Certification audit.
Those seeking approval will also have to have staff go through a training course. Businesses who trade in-app inventory will be scrutinised to make sure they raise awareness and encourage adoption of the recently launched app-ads.txt protocol internally.
To support members with the rollout, IAB UK is hiring its first-ever standards manager, who will be responsible for driving these quality thresholds throughout the UK digital advertising industry.
Companies who have already achieved current IAB UK Gold Standard certification will be supported through their transition to the new standards. The IAB has not given a deadline by which current Gold Standard businesses need to get their house in order.
Although some corners of the industry have lamented what they perceive to be a lack of uptake of the standard, the IAB's website indicates that 80 members have been certified so far, with a further 26 registered to do so.
Tim Elkington, chief digital officer at IAB UK, said the updates to criteria would "support a sustainable future for digital advertising, standards".
"The progression to IAB UK Gold Standard 1.1 adds benchmarks that must now be achieved. While I am confident the industry will rise to meet these new standards, it will be incumbent upon us all to ensure the IAB UK Gold Standard continues to evolve to meet the demands of this dynamic industry," he finished.