We All Need To Join The IAB Tech Lab In The Fight Against Fake Ads

"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Pete Spande, chief revenue officer at Business Insider.

Imagine this unfortunately all-too-common scenario: A publisher works on a potential program with a new advertiser. After discussions promisingly move forward, the client suddenly hesitates carrying out the program.

Finally, after several conversations, the reason for the reluctance is revealed. The advertiser researched the site and bought inventory via programmatic. The advertiser experienced low viewability or high levels of invalid traffic. Or the campaign just didn't perform well.

However, if you scratch below the surface, here’s what really happened: The client in question purchased fewer than 100 impressions on the property during the past six months from a shady ad seller – though they believe they bought many times that amount.

The problem is that such vendors are now as common as faux Prada bags on Canal Street, especially for increasingly valuable video inventory.

Given this background, I applaud the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab for its launch of ads.txt, a new tool to combat the black market for digital advertising. Like credit card chips that provide additional authentication, this initiative validates inventory as genuine, whether from a publisher or dedicated agent.

I strongly encourage the industry to get behind the IAB Tech Lab’s new effort and want to underscore several important steps that need to happen simultaneously if ads.txt is to actually be effective.

First, the program must be scaled. There must be enough authenticated inventory to make it attractive to buyers. Publishers need to make available their unique publisher ID and the IDs of any authorized reseller of their inventory.

Second, both buy- and sell-side technologies must support the program. Specifically, supply-side platforms and demand-side platforms must make these IDs available to buyers.

Third, buyers must demand authenticated inventory. Ultimately, if advertisers don’t consistently demand better quality control, this initiative will be doomed.

Put simply, for ads.txt to work, each part of the programmatic ad ecosystem must play its part to ensure it becomes the standard in the industry.

Let’s all acknowledge the critical efforts being made by the IAB Tech Lab to help solve a problem that affects us all. Restoring trust between buyers and sellers – and the ad tech that connects them – is essential. And pulling in the same direction is the important first step.

Follow Peter Spande (@PeteSpande), Business Insider (@businessinsider) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.


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