4A's Conference

4A's Meeting in Austin: Invest Millions Fighting Ad Fraud, 'Save Billions'

TAG Players Predict Anti-Fraud Certification Will Become Ad-Buying Staple

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Marketing industry members gathered in Austin at the 4A's Transformation conference.
Marketing industry members gathered in Austin at the 4A's Transformation conference. Credit: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

Leaders of key ad industry groups said Tuesday that their effort to combat online ad fraud and other schemes defrauding marketers were moving forward quickly, even as they acknowledged that their fight was also still in an early stage.

"We're all enablers of this situation, which has to be cut off at its sources," said Bob Liodice, president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, at the 4A's Transformation conference in Austin, Texas. "We're only learning how to do this at this point in time."

"If we are successful we save billions of dollars," Mr. Liodice said, on stage alongside 4A's President-CEO Nancy Hill, Interactive Advertising Bureau Exec VP-General Counsel Mike Zaneis and John Montgomery, chief operating officer for North America at GroupM Interaction. "Invest millions, save billions," he added.

The regime the group hopes will help eliminate ad fraud, protect online privacy, stop malware and promote transparency is called TAG, for the Trustworthy Accountability Group. Each of the four areas has a working group developing tools that online publishers and others can use to gain TAG certification.

The trade groups committed $1.5 million in funding to start the group last year, but it is still getting going. Earlier this year its CEO left after four months, succeeded on an interim basis by Mr. Zaneis.

Mr. Zaneis predicted that TAG would become a common feature of online ad buys.

"You are going to hear a lot more about this," he said. "I think it will become a regular part of the buying process."

In addition to the trade-group chiefs who spoke on Tuesday, the 24-member TAG board announced earlier this month includes industry leaders including Bill Koenigsberg, president-CEO, Horizon Media; Rob Norman, chief digital officer, GroupM; Marc Pritchard, global brand building officer, Procter & Gamble; and Dana Anderson, CMO, Mondelez International.

The next step is making sure TAG can adapt as quickly as the bad actors that have been deploying botnets to lure ad revenue by creating fraudulent, non-human impressions.

"We have to put the organization in a position to stay ahead of this," Ms. Hill said, "because believe me, even if you stop them now they're not going to just go away."

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