CEO of Industry Fraud-Fighting Group Wants to Put Bad Actors in 'Penalty Box'

Consequences Promised for Those Who Violate Industry Group's Anti-Fraud Criteria

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The head of a new industry group created to fight ad fraud wants those perpetuating it to know they will be named if they don't shape up.

Linda Woolley
Linda Woolley Credit: Image courtesy of IAB

Linda Woolley, who today was named president-CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) -- a fraud fighting organization formed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers -- said the group would put bad actors in a "penalty box," calling them out for bad behavior.

"An enforcement program that doesn't have teeth doesn't do anybody any good," she said at today's IAB Ad Operations Summit in New York. "TAG plans to call out bad actors."

In addition to the "penalty box" approach, TAG will give those operating in good faith a seal of approval. The idea is to shift the flow of dollars to those doing the right thing.

"My hope is that legitimate companies will use this information to make decisions about who they do business with," Ms. Woolley said in an interview with Ad Age following her talk. "If a company doesn't have a TAG seal of approval, they'll think twice about doing business with that company. Why don't they [have a seal]? Are they willful? Are they ignorant? Are they profiting from doing bad things?"

TAG, Ms. Woolley said, was created to fight fraud, malware and piracy, as well as to increase transparency. The formation of TAG, announced last month, is the most serious action these groups have taken to date in the fight against fraud.

TAG's appointment of Ms. Woolley, a veteran of several industry self-regulation efforts, shows industry groups fear Washington stepping in if fraud is not cleaned up. Ms. Woolley acknowledged elected representatives and regulators are paying attention, when she discussed the timing of the initiative.

"Last May the Senate held a hearing on malware," Ms. Woolley said. "Malware? Really? You might think with all the other major problems that are out there: the economy, wars, Ebola, why is Congress paying attention to malware? Well, they are."

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