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ANA 4As Business Leadership

4A’s, ANA and IAB launch joint effort to revamp standard T&Cs for media buying

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By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

March 15, 2023 | 6 min read

The three industry bodies are teaming up to overhaul a set of guidelines introduced over two decades ago.

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A new joint effort between the IAB, the 4A’s and the ANA aims to create new best practices and standards for online advertising / Adobe Stock

Today, three leading US advertising trade groups – the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) – announced a joint initiative to establish new standard terms and conditions for the media sector.

In a joint press release, the organizations said they will create a new task force launching in April that aims to overhaul the Standard Terms & Conditions for Internet Advertising, an established framework that includes boilerplate language and often appears on media buying contracts and documentation. This framework has been updated just twice since being introduced in 2001 – once in 2010 and once in 2018.

“The terms and conditions provide alignment to the best approach for digital advertising agreements between the buy and sell side,” Marla Kaplowitz, president and chief executive officer at the 4A’s tells The Drum. “Given the dynamic aspects of the digital supply chain and increased complexity, it's important to ensure clarity for both sides when engaging in activity.”

Dubbed the Terms & Conditions Task Force, the group will include industry stakeholders from brands, agencies, publishers and adtech organizations. It will assemble monthly and plans to cement a set of new terms and conditions by the end of the calendar year.

“The impetus for this initiative is simple,” ANA's executive vice-president Bill Tucker says. “The marketplace is evolving at a rapid pace and all of us – marketers, agencies, and media – need to work together to ensure that we are keeping up with the changes and to collaboratively create a productive and positive working environment.“

Changes in the online advertising ecosystem have necessitated a new approach to standardization, said Angelina Eng, vice-president of measurement, addressability and data center at IAB. “Since 2009, advancements in ad technology and the emergence of new media channels have prompted publishers and ad tech providers to offer new products and services to media buyers, necessitating updates to standard terms and conditions,” she said.

“This includes social media ads, programmatic inventory, advanced TV, in-game advertisements, streaming audio & podcasts, ad verification, ad viewability and more.“

The task force will aim to create uniform standards for what are often “re-negotiated, rewritten or amended terms,” she explained, “such as payment terms, editorial adjacency, custom materials, cancelation terms, sponsorships and more.“

The group will also develop proposed fixes and requirements addressing areas like data collection and use, measurement discrepancies and more.

These efforts, added IAB chief exec David Cohen, could ultimately help “streamline the digital advertising buying process.” Cohen acknowledged that prior efforts to update the Standard Terms & Conditions for Internet Advertising have proved challenging but expressed confidence that the joint effort will produce a positive result.

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The industry bodies feel there’s no better time than the present to reassess previously-established norms to create a better framework for industry players who are witnessing widespread economic and technological disruption. As the ANA’s Tucker says: “The last update was in 2018, and the changes over the past five years have been enormous. It’s simply time to revisit the terms and conditions and make sure they work for everybody.”

The task force will welcome stakeholders of all kinds. Those interested in joining the effort can sign up online or email data@iab.com.

For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.

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