With real-time bidding inventory expanding at an accelerated clip, the idea of coming up with "standard practices" for programmatic buyers and sellers could seem a bit late. But the Interactive Advertising Bureau, through its Network and Exchange Committee, has been trying to do just that since it formed in April 2011.
This week, at the organization's annual Advertising Week conference, Mixx, the IAB said it has moved forward and is now expanding its Quality Assurance Guidelines compliance program beyond networks and exchanges to include marketers, agencies, demand-side platforms, supply side platforms, and trading desks.
In a conversation with two ad industry executives overseeing the guidelines, GroupM Interaction COO John Montgomery and Google manager of strategic partnerships Alanna Gombert (née Clark), said that the standards are meant to reflect the changing landscape of the online ad industry, rather than curtail any particular infractions.
"Essentially, this is a promise by all parties participating in this program that everyone agrees and will adhere to a series of brand safety assurances to advertisers that their ads will not appear next to inappropriate content," Montgomery told AdExchanger. "Ultimately, the promotion of greater transparency is something that we as an agency are eager to support."
In that sense, it represents a statement of principles, so don't expect any enforcement mechanism for entities who disregard the guidelines. That said, Gombert said she expects the guidelines will make marketers more comfortable with RTB and programmatic buying and that it will spur vendors on both sides of the buying and selling divide to step up and offer greater protections.
"The beauty of this is that we’re talking about programmatic buying, so in a sense, it's a huge recognition of how important this area has become," Gombert said. "The committee is going to be writing new guidelines for the growth of RTB. In terms of inventory classification, the goal here is to produce recommendations and help define more murky inventory channels. That's good for the industry. For companies like Google, we feel it reflects things that we've already put in place, such as investments to prevent malware and offering spam protection."
IAB has engaged The 614 Group, a global digital management consultancy run by Rob Rasko and Adam Brothers, to head the QAG project's programmatic initiatives.
When it comes to writing the new rules designed to promote and shape the growth of exchange buying and selling, there are going to be five different subcommittees addressing specific issues around Transparency (led by Chad Peplinski of Valueclick and will include Jed Nahum of Microsoft, Jeffrey Goldstein of NBC, Ari Levenfeld of Rocketfuel and Paul Chu of Pubmatic); Mobile (no leader yet, but it will include Mike Laband from SpotXchange, Phillippe Browning from CBS Interactive, and Laura Buckman from Mojiva); Video (led by Tim Avila of Brightroll and including Andy Sarfas of Telemtry, Mukund Ramachandran from DataXu, and Matt Corbett of Digital Broadcast Group); Programmatic (this section is completely new , to be led by Google's Gombert and will include Jon Espejo of Accuen and Mike Nolet from AppNexus); and Compliance (led by Teri Gallo of Cadreon and will include someone appointed by GroupM Interaction's Montgomery and GroupM's Joe Barone).