Network Guest Blog Post – Increasing Trust in the Industry with IAB Tech Lab’s Transparency Center

Throughout September, IAB Europe has been hosting a series of virtual events, podcasts and blogs to discuss and debate trust and transparency in the Digital Advertising industry. This week we are delighted to hand over the blog to our network partners IAB Tech Lab!

Jill Wittkopp, Director of Product at IAB Tech Lab and Tina Lakhani,  Product Marketing Consultant for IAB Tech Lab discuss how IAB Tech Lab have been focused on improving transparency across the supply chain with their newly launched Transparency centre. 

Digital advertising is a fast, innovative, and vibrant industry that provides advertisers with opportunities and capabilities beyond any other media channel. Thousands of companies in our industry work together every day to deliver ads that help sustain the free and open internet that we have all come to rely on for journalism, information and entertainment.

However, such growth, interest, and volume of participation in our industry comes with challenges. IABs around the world and IAB Tech Lab since 2017 have been working with the digital advertising community to develop standards, initiatives and best practices that build interoperability, efficiency and trust within our ecosystem. However, over the years it has become increasingly apparent that despite these efforts it is still difficult to differentiate between good and bad actors within our supply chains.

This problem exists because while there are standards and best practices in place, digital trading makes it difficult for buyers, sellers, and ad tech vendors alike to know which standards or compliance programs their partners are adhering to. This is because, until recently, such data has either not been publicly available, had been fragmented, and in most cases had not been machine readable.

To address this challenge, in August 2021, IAB Tech Lab announced the launch of a new initiative called the Transparency Center. The Transparency Center acts as a single source of truth about all participants in the digital advertising industry and is a shared industry resource that enables participants to gain transparency into the standards and compliance programs their media partners are operating within.

This is an initiative that will evolve and grow as the industry develops and in its initial release the Transparency Center includes the following components:

  •   Supply Chain Validation tool helps validate data between ads.txt (authorized digital sellers) and sellers.json. This may be used to alert both publishers and buyers of instances where the data between the two standards is inconsistent and offers help in how to correct.
  •   Global Industry Compliance Registry provides the certification status of supply chain partners against various compliance programs around the world e.g. IAB UK’s Gold Standard.
  •   Advertising System Aggregation brings together information about supply chain partners, such as their unique company ID as identified across different programs. This aims to help buyers identify the same technology partner across global platforms and programs.

This is a key initiative for the industry as it enables buyers to mitigate the risks of working with bad actors, in turn helping to ensure they are accessing safe inventory.

For publishers and ad tech platforms, it enables them to make more informed decisions of the vendors they choose to partner with and also provides a forum to promote the initiatives and best practices they are employing themselves.

The data in the Transparency Center is free for Tech Lab members to browse and the compliance APIs are free for anyone in the industry to use. We encourage all participants of the digital advertising industry to get involved – for publishers to use services like Supply Chain Validation to verify that their sellers are representing them as expected; for buyers to ensure their technology partners ingest the data and make the relevant selections in their campaign settings to filter for vendors that adhere to standards deemed important; and for all participants in the supply chain to use this data to inform their decisions of which vendors to partner with. We encourage all participants to use the transparency center and work together to help eliminate bad actors and enhance  trust in our industry.

About the authors 

Jill is on the IAB Tech Lab product team focused on software services and the programmatic supply chain. Her previous experience includes 10 years working in ad technology focusing on software for marketers. This has included Rakuten Advertising’s DSP as well as self-serve display and email products at Magnetic Media acquired by Deloitte Digital.

 

Tina consults for IAB Tech Lab as Director of Product Marketing where she works to raise awareness, understanding and adoption of Tech Lab standards. She has 8 years of industry experience working within various ad tech companies, and most recently comes from a role as Head of Ad Tech at IAB UK where she worked with the UK Ad Tech industry at large.

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