Will the new gold standards work for digital advertising?

25 Oct,2017


By Sanjeev Kotnala


It had to happen. It is a need of the hour. It is a well enacted drama with no future. The digital industry ad sales is under tremendous focus and pressure. Fake clicks and counts are dominating with fake ads. It is too little too late.

The advertiser and audience experience has worsened over time. The consumer is frustrated with the digital invasive advertising and has no where to complain.

Hence, it is no surprise that 23 major tech and media companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter together signed an ‘open letter‘ by the Internet Advertising Bureau ( IAB, UK). This is being referred as the ‘New Gold Standard Initiative’. It aims to raise standards across the digital advertising industry and address the key issue facing the industry in UK.

It is media companies telling the brands and the advertisers that they matter. A small gesture to say we were in the wrong, and now we are committed to address the issues that should have never been there in the first place.

The three key initiatives of Gold Standard are:

ADDRESSING AD FRAUD by Implementatng IAB’s ads.txt initiative. All sites selling digital ads will list companies authorised to sell inventory on a specific site. It will improve transparency and prevent the sale of fake ads.

‘TWELVE BAD ADS’. The signatories will follow the LEAN principles, and the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads. They promise, never to use the “12 bad ads,” such as invasive and pop-up ads, auto-playing-video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown, more than 30% ad density, flashing animated ads, etc. across a desktop and mobile.

BRAND SAFETY: Increasing brand safety by working with JICWEBS to ensure that the Display Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Brand Safety Principles are valuable, applicable and continue to evolve with market expectations.

These are clearly early first steps and the dateline for implementation yet to be finalised.

The question remains: what took them so much of time to identify the issues and suggest solution? Are these not things that should have been done? So, what is great about signing an obligatory letter?

It will remain a toothless paper tiger unless the organisations convert their capabilities and intent to reality.I don’t have much hope. I suggest you too wait and watch.

We in India know how many industry bodies, associations and self-regulation obligatory guidelines make no difference. The large advertisers and media houses flout rules and break expectations. Everyone lives on hope of some magic and miracle.

Will ‘Digital Ad Gold standard’ follow the same pattern of disappointing like other industry initiatives, or we will see a much-needed shift? Only time has the answer!

The 23 board member signatories are AppNexus, Bauer Media, ESI Media, Facebook, Google, Guardian Media Group, GroundTruth, Immediate Media, Mail Brands, Microsoft, News UK, Oath, Quantcast, RadiumOne, Teads, Telegraph Media Group, TripAdvisor, Trinity Mirror Solutions, Twitter, Vevo, Viant, Videology & Weve.

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