TAG Says Its 'Certified' Initiative to Fight Ad Fraud Is Ready

Program to Prevent Fraudsters From Gaining Ad Dollars

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Fraudsters will have to up their game following the Trustworthy Accountability Group's deployment Monday of its "Certified Against Fraud" initiative. Its official arrival comes more than six months since the group, a creation of ad-industry trade organizations, said it was developing the program.

The group's cornerstone anti-fraud certification program will award "TAG Certified Against Fraud" seals to buyers, sellers and intermediaries in the digital advertising supply chain that complete rigorous anti-fraud requirements, TAG said.

"Going forward, TAG will name and proclaim the companies leading the fight against digital ad fraud through a 'Certified Against Fraud' seal that recognizes their efforts to protect partners and customers," Mr. Zaneis said in a statement. "Participants in the digital ad supply chain can now ask a simple question to tell if their counterparties have taken the necessary steps to fight ad fraud: 'Are you TAG certified against fraud?' As more TAG anti-fraud seals are awarded, the cracks in our industry exploited by bad actors will also be sealed against their criminal endeavors."

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 payment ID system to verify that payments aren't going to criminals.

Direct buyers such as advertisers and authorized agents must complete the registration process, have a designated TAG compliance officer and comply with the Media Rating Council's Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines. Direct sellers, which include publishers and authorized publisher agents, must comply with all steps required of buyers and then some. Intermediaries such as ad networks and indirect buyers and sellers must comply with everything direct buyers and sellers do, as well as implement TAG's payment ID protocol.

Still, joining comes at a cost. For example, an ad tech company would have to spend at least $20,000 annually to receive the "Verified by Tag" seal. Companies who want more seals will have to pay more, too, TAG said.

AppNexus, Collective, DoubleVerify, Dstillery, Index Exchange, MediaMath, Omnicom, WhiteOps are among nearly two dozen companies that have already signed up to go through the process.

Meanwhile, TAG's other anti-fraud initiative includes a payment ID protocol, which creates a record of who gets paid for every impression and is designed to prevent criminals from receiving ad dollars. Bad actors, who commit fraud through tactics such as selling fake impressions on websites they've listed in ad exchanges, won't be able to get payment IDs if all goes as planned.

That feature has yet to launch.

"The payment ID is going to be a system to keep revenue from flowing to criminals," Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG, previously told Ad Age. "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."

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