IAB UK introduces ‘Gold Standard’ to tackle ad fraud, blockers and brand safety

Alex Spencer
Some of the 'bad ad' formats that are discouraged by the IAB Gold Standard initiative

The IAB UK is launching a new initiative, the ‘Gold Standard’, to address some of the key issues in digital advertising.

The initiative focuses on three recommendations for the industry, tackling the issues of ad fraud, ad blocking and brand safety in turn.

The first is implementation of IAB Tech Lab’s Ads.txt transparency initiative, a method for publishers and distributors to publicly declare the companies they have authorised to sell their digital inventory, in order to prevent the sale of spoofed or fake inventory.

The second is improving the ad experience – presumably dissuading adoption of ad blockers – by sticking to the IAB’s LEAN (Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive) principles, and the standards laid out by the Coalition for Better Advertising. The latter includes a list of 12 ‘bad ads’ that should be avoided, including pop-ups, auto-playing videos with sound, and flashing animated ads.

Finally, the initiative encourages working with JICWEBS on the DTSG brand safety principles, with a view towards either becoming certified or, if already there, continuing to have policies and processes independently verified.

The Gold Standard initiative is supported by 23 companies on the IAB UK board, including Facebook, Google and Twitter – all of whom has co-signed an open letter committing to these actions.

“IAB UK is committed to raising standards in digital advertising so that together we can build a sustainable future for the industry,” it reads. “The next step on this journey is for our members to implement a series of best practice initiatives that will underpin a Gold Standard for digital advertising in the UK.”

All IAB members will be encouraged to commit to the Gold Standard, which is intended to be iterative – with audience measurement and viewability earmarked as future issues that are likely to be covered. The deadline for implementing these first three initiatives will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

“Everyone agrees that digital advertising standards need to improve to keep this industry sustainable and thriving. The IAB Gold Standard is a practical measure that demonstrates media owner commitment to making this happen,” said IAB chief digital officer Tim Elkington. “Media owners need to send a clear signal to advertisers and agencies that they take their responsibilities seriously to offer the best environment possible so that brands can confidently use digital advertising.”

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