TAG Rolls Out 'Approved' List and Payment IDs to Fight Ad Fraud

Group Takes Aim at Fraudsters With Two-Step Verification Process

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In an effort to thwart ad fraud, the marketing industry's Trustworthy Accountability Group wants everyone in the digital advertising landscape to get tagged.

Its new system, dubbed "Verified by Tag," includes two core, interlocking elements: a payment ID system and a registry of TAG-approved advertisers and publishers.

Companies that apply to join the TAG registry will have to go through a background check and review process. Once approved, each will receive a unique ID that will identify its ads to trading partners in the supply chain. Those identifiers can also be matched with the forthcoming payment ID system to verify that payments aren't going to criminals.

Programmatic powerhouses including AOL, Google, AppNexus and Index Exchange have pledged isupport for these dual initiatives, as have the four largest global advertising holding companies, WPP, Omnicom, Publicis and Interpublic.

"This is a first-of-its kind program to create an evergreen market of buyers and sellers with lots of different channels," said TAG CEO Mike Zaneis.

On a parallel track, TAG is developing a payment ID system that it expects to deploy by the end of the year. The goal is to create a record of who gets paid for every impression and thereby prevent criminals from receiving ad dollars by selling fake impressions on sites they list in ad exchanges.

If a fraudster manages to steal a company's unique ID, it will run into a wall when it tries to collect payment, Mr. Zaneis said.

"The payment ID is going to be a system to keep revenue from flowing to criminals," Mr. Zaneis said. "It takes away their incentive to distribute things like malware and bots. The payment ID system will hit them where it hurts, which is their pocketbook."

TAG was created by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It works with companies throughout the digital ad supply chain to fight ad fraud, among other things.

"Ad fraud is a solvable problem," said Scott Spencer, product management director at Google. "If the industry continues to work together on projects like this, we can prevent illegitimate sites and traffic providers from taking spend from the ecosystem and help legitimate publishers earn the revenue to support their businesses."

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