Media Ad Spend Brand Safety

IAB UK introduces CTV, audio and gaming to its Gold Standard certification


By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

October 18, 2022 | 6 min read

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) responds to a changing digital advertising environment.

A lake of golden liquid, representing a gold standard or wealth

The new Gold Standard 2.1 is an acknowledgement of how rapidly the programmatic space is evolving / No longer here

As gaming, audio and connected TV (CTV) advertising become larger parts of the media mix, IAB UK is broadening the scope of its Gold Standard guidelines with the aim to increase transparency across the spectrum of advertising opportunities.

The original iteration of the Gold Standard, launched in 2017, was primarily designed to tackle opacity within digital advertising across digital display and video. This latest version is a result of the growing opportunities to purchase ads programmatically across new mediums – and the issues that sometimes come with that.

As a result, organizations from across the advertising mix are among the first to be certified, including Index Exchange, TikTok, The Guardian and Activision Blizzard Media. The companies certified under the new criteria must prove they are implementing IAB Tech Labs’ Buyers.json and DemandChain Object, to both help address the challenge of scam ads and bring transparency to programmatic transactions.

The new criteria also incorporate an upgrade of ads.txt, with certified companies needing to adhere to ads.txt 1.1.

IAB UK’s chief executive officer Jon Mew said: “Bringing greater transparency to the digital advertising supply chain is a key priority for our industry and something our members are committed to helping deliver. By incorporating these new steps into the Gold Standard, we’re taking a significant step towards that and it’s brilliant that the first companies to be certified come from across the digital ecosystem.

“This is further reinforced by the support for the Gold Standard from the AA, the ISBA and the IPA, and shows that our industry is pulling in the same direction for real, effective change.”

While the larger organizations in the advertising industry appear to be on board, there are still challenges around providing full transparency in digital advertising. The rise of programmatic across new formats such as audio has created the opportunity for bad players to take advantage of loopholes and buyer unfamiliarity in order to game the system.

In September it was reported that podcasts were using in-game ads to bolster their listener numbers, for example, making them more attractive to ad buyers. It is those shady but technically permissible behaviors that endeavors such as the Gold Standard are seeking to fix.

Similarly, research from PubMatic found that more than half of US advertisers and 82% of UK brands would increase their CTV ad spend if there was greater transparency. Lisa Utzschneider, chief executive officer of Integral Ad Science, explained: “If you ask L’Oréal, ’Why don’t you move more of your marketing dollars into programmatic CTV? What is stopping you?’ Well, the reality of traditional marketers investing in linear TV is that they love the transparency.”

Steve Chester, the ISBA’s director of media, said: “Transparency in the programmatic supply chain continues to improve through technology innovations like these and cross-industry collaboration, and we are fully supportive of the IAB’s continued strengthening and development of the Gold Standard across ad fraud, brand safety and bombardment.”

Azma Gohar, director of compliance at Index Exchange, also commented: “The IAB Gold Standard has provided a framework for transparency in the programmatic supply chain, and ultimately helped achieve greater trust with industry partners. The expanded focus on privacy compliance and buy-side transparency in version 2.1 helps to further build on that. We’re proud to be an early adopter of the Gold Standard 2.1, and to continue our work of making the programmatic supply chain more accountable.”

The move is a tacit acknowledgment that the programmatic industry needs further incentives for good behavior. Visible adoption of standards like those proposed by the IAB UK is an attempt to provide provenance of value for buyers – guaranteeing that ads and ad spend end up with legitimate outlets.

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