Buying media online is not unlike shopping for a mattress. A consumer may see a mattress at one store that they want to buy, not realizing that at another store, the very same piece is a lower price because it is under a different name. This scenario makes it very difficult for the buyer to know exactly what they are getting; the same goes for online advertising, where units are bought and sold and repackaged through different suppliers, creating a very foggy marketplace in which buyers have very little transparency.
The issue stems from the fact that there are thousands of companies in the space, many of whom have different languages, different rules, different metrics, and different ways of operating their business. This lack of a uniform approach has led to the TAG Inventory Quality Guidelines (IQG), a certification process for digital advertising sellers. IQG gives a basic standard to transactions, allowing buyers to make informed decisions based on quality. It ensures the framework for brand safety and transparency for buyers.
The program aims to foster an environment of trust in the marketplace and reduce friction. These guidelines provide a common language that clearly describes the characteristics of advertising inventory and transactions across the advertising value chain. Sellers can use this common framework of disclosures across the industry to ensure compliance on a large scale and facilitate the resolution of disputes and complaints.
Sellers have the opportunity to overcome fragmentation by participating in the IQG program and obtaining third-party validation of their various related controls and processes. These ground rules ensure that buyers have a full understanding of what they are purchasing and that sellers are disclosing the appropriate information to facilitate this, a perfectly reasonable means of conducting business.
IQG improves the entire industry by protecting both advertisers and publishers. These guidelines ensure content and creative guidelines that protect brands and publishers from being associated with content that is not brand safe. Advertisers can ensure that their ads are not run on an inappropriate site, and publishers can prevent low-quality ads unfit for their publication from running on their site.
Another important aspect of IQG is that it forces participants to have fleshed-out, well-documented processes across the organization. The auditing team examines processes and ensures that a company meets these guidelines. This assurance creates checks and balances across companies. In doing so, the auditors essentially remove the idea of institutional knowledge by making companies document and stay in line with processes.
Finally, IQG puts value where the value should be. By weeding out the nontransparent layers whose source is unknown, players are able to conduct business more smoothly. This allows advertisers and publishers to talk openly and transparently about the elements they transact upon. With higher-quality ad units in play, advertisers can run more successful campaigns. At the same time, this inventory allows publishers to earn higher CPMs by charging the appropriate value for these vetted units.
Online advertising is a young and evolving business, and as the industry grows up, players have an opportunity to shape and solidify its direction. IQG heightens levels of inventory quality and provides brands with the highest quality and most effective cross-channel advertising solutions. This is yet another step in our multi-pronged and evolving initiative to ensure quality and value for everyone — brands, agencies, and publishers.
Engage:BDR is leading the charge in standards and certification when it comes to antifraud, malware and inventory quality. Engage:BDR became one of the first companies to become independently audited to the QAG standards and they are in process of obtaining IQG certification. Engage:BDR continues to work progressively with publishers to combat factors which negatively affect inventory quality.