Our Trust Action Plan calls for industry-wide action to address the decline of public trust in advertising. It includes the need to build widespread support for the IAB’s Gold Standard. The IAB has recently launched an update – Gold Standard 2.0 – and so we spent some time with the IAB UK Chief Executive, Jon Mew, to find out more about how this can help us all achieve our goal.
Industry-wide support of the IAB’s Gold Standard is an important part of our Trust Action Plan so first of all can you tell us what’s new about the 2.0 version?
The Gold Standard was conceived back in 2017 with the fundamental aim of raising standards within digital advertising by pulling together initiatives to tackle ad fraud, improve brand safety and improve the user experience. Three years on, we’ve undergone an independent audit of the certification process and worked closely with our members to evolve the criteria – ensuring they keep pace with current challenges.
Gold Standard 2.0 is the most recent update, introducing criteria relating to user privacy, a key aspect of trust, by asking certifying companies to implement the Transparency & Consent Framework v2.0. The Gold Standard also now incorporates IAB Tech Lab’s latest solutions: sellers.json and OpenRTB SupplyChain Object – to improve accountability within the digital supply chain and strengthen the industry’s ability to combat ad fraud. Certification is available to companies involved in the process of digital advertising including publishers and media owners, those who buy online advertising space on behalf of brands and all the intermediaries in the sector.
How can the industry best support the rapid adoption of this new standard?
Since it first launched, we have seen great adoption of the Gold Standard amongst our members. Their support in renewing certification annually and spreading the word to encourage new uptake is vital. We urge any company certified for version 1 to start the process of upgrading to 2.0 now, even if it’s ahead of the annual renewal, to get ahead of the curve and show how seriously they are taking the standards.
For those that are not Gold Standard certified, our simple ask is – get involved! Raising standards in our industry is a shared responsibility and in the best interests of us all. For those that need a commercial incentive to register, we’ve seen that it pays to be Gold Standard certified: display investment in Gold Standard companies grew at more than twice the rate of non-certified companies (IAB UK/PwC Digital Adspend study 2019).
We also urge advertisers to come on board and officially support the initiative. They should focus on working with partners that are Gold Standard certified and if any partners aren’t yet, simply ask them to register. So far, 12 leading brands have officially made this commitment – including Unilever, Tesco, Nationwide, McDonalds and Coca Cola. Their involvement is helping drive change downstream, so we call on all advertisers to get in touch and get behind this.
Wider industry support is also incredibly helpful in encouraging uptake. For example, the Advertising Association has made driving adoption of the Gold Standard one of its core pillars in helping turn the tide on falling trust rates in advertising.
What would you like to see from advertisers and those who buy services from companies providing advertising technology solutions?
Advertisers have a critical role to play. Where they choose to invest their money is perhaps the most important factor in shaping the digital advertising industry. By choosing to work with companies that are Gold Standard certified, advertisers can actively raise standards within the ecosystem and help to tackle issues such as ad fraud and brand safety.
The Gold Standard was created to directly address the issues that understandably concern advertisers. So Gold Standard certification offers a shorthand to select which partners to work with and can also give them the confidence of knowing how and where their money is being spent. They can be sure these companies respect the consumer experience, implement anti-fraud measures, provide tools and controls for brand safety and use industry standards for privacy.
It’s only by having all parts of the supply chain involved that we can affect real and lasting change – and doing so is in the interests of all of us, from advertisers to publishers. A more efficient, safer and user-orientated industry is a successful and sustainable industry. We all have a part to play in delivering this and a shared responsibility to invest according to these values.
How do you think Gold Standard 2.0 can contribute to rebuilding public trust in advertising?
A key pillar of the Gold Standard is to improve the digital advertising experience for people by requiring advertisers to adhere to the Better Ads Standards developed by the Coalition for Better Ads. These clamp down on the intrusive and interruptive online ad formats that research has shown deliver a negative experience for users online. This is important as respecting users and maintaining the fundamental value exchange that exists in an ad-funded ecosystem are crucial to rebalancing people’s relationship with advertising and ultimately rebuilding trust.
We know that people value free content – in a poll of over 1,000 UK adults, 89% said that they would prefer to have free access to an ad-funded internet than have to pay for online services. So as an industry we need to respect that and provide the best possible experience for people when it comes to digital advertising.
The Gold Standard also promotes a standardised approach to providing transparency and control over the use of people’s personal data. In short, people want to know their data is being used in a responsible and compliant way, and by requiring certified companies to implement the industry Transparency and Consent Framework, the Gold Standard is helping to build people’s trust in companies that use their personal data for advertising.
While the Gold Standard isn’t going to singlehandedly rebuild public trust in advertising – this is an issue that spans all media and requires co-ordinated, collective effort – it is a key part of the solution and shows how the digital ad industry can pull together to instigate change from within.
The IAB’s Gold Standard 2.0 is the Platinum Partner for RESET 2021 – the first industry event to be held by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA. To find out more about RESET 2021, check out our events page here.