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IAB Tech Lab publishes draft Project Rearc standards

With less than a year until third-party cookies are phased out across all browsers, and with imminent changes to mobile ad IDs, IAB Tech Lab has been collaborating with the ad and media industry via Project Rearc.

The aim of Project Rearc is to develop privacy-preserving specifications and best practices to support the development of open-source and proprietary solutions. 

Tech Lab has now released initial specifications and best practices to support re-architecting digital media for addressability, accountability and privacy. These are released in partnership with PRAM (Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media), which brings together business, policy, and technical efforts across a full range of industry stakeholders.

The standards are currently open for industry comment and Tech Lab is urging the industry to get involved with vetting the specifications and best practices, which aim to provide a foundation for responsible targeting, measurement, and attribution solutions with consumer privacy at the forefront.

IAB Tech Lab said: “All of the specifications and best practices being released are designed to be pragmatic, secure, scalable, supportive of marketplace innovation, and enablers of conformity to data transparency standards for publishers, advertisers, and constituents across the advertising ecosystem, whether or not advertisers and publishers are able to connect their audiences directly.”

These include:  

  • The Accountability Platform: Ensures that all supply chain participants can consistently prove that they are adhering to user preferences. It provides specifications for open, auditable data structures, and standard practices intended to reliably demonstrate digital advertising supply chain conformity to preferences and restrictions set by users and the digital properties they visit. Open for public comment until 7 May 2021. Download the platform and provide feedback here
  • The Global Privacy Platform: Builds on prior standards to ensure that user data is passed in a safe and transparent manner. It addresses capturing and encoding regional user data rights and preferences into a standardised format that can be propagated through the supply chain. The aim is to offer users reliable transparency and control, and to support efficient compliance for industry participants amidst ongoing regulatory evolution. The Global Privacy Platform is designed to plug into the Accountability Platform, which enables compliance programs to analyse whether the advertising supply chain respects user preferences. Open for public comment until 8 April 2021. Download the platform and provide feedback here

Two addressability-focused releases are also being announced for public comment, supporting separate but complementary approaches and intended interoperability with the Accountability Platform.

  • Best Practices for User-Enabled Identity Tokens: A set of guidelines to ensure security and consumer privacy in scenarios when publishers and marketers offer personalised content and services tied to a user-provided email or phone number. Open for public comment until 7 May 2021. Download the platform and provide feedback here
  • Taxonomy & Data Transparency Standards to Support Seller-Defined Audience and Context Signalling: Specifications for ad-supported publisher content when no user-provided or third-party identifier is available, relying on standardised seller-defined audience and contextual attributes being passed within OpenRTB (real-time bidding). Open for public comment until 7 May 2021. Download the platform and provide feedback here

You can review the proposed standard and provide feedback, please go to: https://iabtechlab.com/rearc 

You can find out more about the new releases via IAB Tech Lab here

IAB: 50% of marketers saw an increase in affiliate spend in 2020

Many affiliate programmes saw high double and occasional treble digit growth in 2020, according to a new report from the IAB Affiliates & Partnerships Group.

With almost one in five brands and agencies spending more than £250k per month on their affiliate campaigns, the organisation says it’s clear that it’s a serious route to market.

However, Kevin Edwards, Global Strategy Director at AWIN and Chair at the IAB Affiliates & Partnerships Group, says growth has to be weighed against those brands who reduced their spend.

The travel sector remains an important one for the affiliate channel and the IAB remains hopeful that it will fire back in the second half of 2021, taking advantage of pent up consumer demand. It expects the most favoured affiliate business models – cashback and content sites – will be ready to support brands when that time comes.

Edwards says that digital marketing in general faces challenges in tackling the ability to track campaigns in the future, so offering clarity on the current state of play within the channel is vital: “Alongside demonstrating the value of affiliate marketing and ensuring transparency and trust are at the heart of what we do, this survey sets out a blueprint for future projects.

“The affiliate industry has a proud heritage of demonstrating its value to brands and agencies, and this survey helps guide our future strategy in proving why we should be front and centre of advertisers’ future marketing plans.”

You can download the report from the IAB website here.

IAB Rearc initiative to ‘harmonise privacy, personalisation and community’

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has called on the entire marketing-media ecosystem to “rearc” digital marketing to harmonise privacy, personalisation and community.

Speaking to 1,200+ senior digital media and technology industry executives at it’s Annual Leadership Meeting, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg asked industry leaders from the brand, agency, publisher, platform, and technology industries to join together and change the arc of digital marketing “to at last put consumers in the safe, sane, exciting center of everything we do.”

Project Rearc will bring together IAB, IAB Tech Lab, governmental, and other industry/consumer organizations with the goal of creating standards of behavior, codes of conduct, legal agreements, and enabling technologies to address consumer demands for personalization, and privacy.

Top executives, including Alysia Borsa, Chief Business and Data Officer at Meredith Corporation; Steve Katelman, EVP Strategic Partnerships at Omnicom Media Group, and David Spector, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of ThirdLove, immediately joined the call for collaboration.

“The fact that 81 percent of consumers want brands to get to know them well enough to know when to approach them and when not, yet 73 percent of consumers say their concerns over data privacy are growing is not a contradiction,” said Rothenberg. “Rather, it is perfectly consistent with ‘the eternal quest of human beings to be valued as individuals, within the context of living in families, communities, and cultures.’”

The IAB says billions of dollars are at stake. Econometric research by John Deighton (Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at Harvard Business School) unveiled at the conference shows that the elimination of digital marketing personalization would mean a loss of $32-$39 billion in ad revenue on the Open Web by 2025, “with more than 90% of those revenues shifting to walled gardens.”

IAB’s announcement comes in the immediate wake of Google Chrome announcing it will phase out third-party cookies, as well as the first month of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) being underway.

IAB and IAB Tech Lab have begun convening member-company business and technical teams to draft requirements and consider approaches to support the industry and manage consumer privacy, safety, identity, and other needs in the post-cookie digital marketing supply chain.

“The cookie’s death can lead to a better future for digital media globally. It’s an opportunity to change the practices, controls, and value surrounding personal data to favor consumers. IAB and IAB Tech Lab have already been hard at work, engaging our members to define practical solutions,” said Dennis Buchheim, EVP and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “In the coming year, Tech Lab will undertake one of its most comprehensive initiatives to create technical standards, guidelines, and potentially a compliance program to support members – and consumers.”

IAB responds to EU privacy complaints

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe has responded to complaints filed by campaigners with Data Protection Authorities (DPA) in the UK, Ireland and Poland, which make specific reference to the IAB OpenRTB Protocol and IAB Europe Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF).

The complaints allege that programmatic advertising using real-time auctions are inherently incompatible with EU data protection law. The premise of these challenges is based on communication between IAB Europe and the European Commission, from April 2017.

At the time, these conversations were part of a dialogue around the planned implementation of GDPR and revisions to the ePrivacy Directive.

IAB Europe was asked to provide details of potential challenges that would be faced within the digital advertising ecosystem, to ensure regulations developed were appropriate for use and could be implemented without limitation across the entire value chain.

The limitations identified at that time focused on how notice and choice could be given to consumers regarding the use of their data for targeting purposes. These limitations have since been addressed by the development of the Transparency and Consent Framework and IAB Consent Management Platform (CMP) by IAB Europe.

IAB Europe says it remains engaged with the European Commission and regional DPAs on behalf of members and the broader digital advertising industry, and adds that a similar dialogue has been attempted with the instigators of the complaints.

The IAB statement read: “These claims are not only false but are intentionally damaging to the digital advertising industry and to European digital media that depend on advertising as a revenue stream.

“IAB Europe has consistently tried to outline the counter arguments and correct information, mentioned above, to the claimants. However, they have consistently chosen to ignore the facts, bringing more inaccurate information to support their case. Their errors of omission could therefore be characterised as either misrepresentations or just fabrications.”

Click here to read the full statement from IAB Europe.

Marketers to adopt traffic light labelling for data transparency

Leading marketing and media trade groups have unveiled the beta version of a new industry standard Data Transparency Label.

The new label was developed by the ANA’s Data Marketing & Analytics (DMA) division, the IAB Tech Lab, the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

The Data Transparency Label was introduced during a presentation at Advertising Week 2018 with support from ANA, The ANA Council for Data Integrity, IAB Tech Lab’s Data Transparency Standards Working Group, IAB’s Data Center of Excellence, CIMM and ARF.

The label is the culmination of more than a year’s work in developing a “nutritional label” equivalent for audience segment data sets that discloses source, collection, segmentation criteria, recency and cleansing specifics. The group is also establishing a centralised database to house the label information, as well as an associated compliance program that will govern disclosure, certification and validation.

The trade associations and their members were motivated to develop this standard Data Transparency Label to help reputable marketers, fundraisers and agencies better leverage data in a responsible manner, to enable the delivery of increasingly-relevant messages to consumers and donors and to improve the overall consumer experience with content and advertising.

The thinking is simple – data buyers are making billions of dollars in media spend decisions based on audience segmentation data, but few tools enable marketers to learn “what’s inside” the data they buy.

The Data Transparency Label, which was developed to serve as an industry standard, is comprised of four descriptive sections designed to better inform buyers of each data set’s ingredients:

  1. Data Solution Provider and Distributor Information
    Who provided the data segment, inclusive of contact information, for both data solution distributor and, where applicable, original data provider;
  2. Audience Snapshot
    What audience segment the label describes, including both the provider’s branded audience segment name as well as the most relevant segment name from a new standardized taxonomy, a top-line audience description and applicable geographic coverage;
  3. Audience Construction
    How the segment was constructed, inclusive of details such as audience count, any applicable modeling or cross-device ID expansion that may have been applied, audience refresh rates, and event lookback window for inclusion;
  4. Source Information
    Where the original data components were sourced. Required for each significant data source, this component includes details on data provenance, data collection techniques, refresh frequency, and event lookback window.

With the announcement, data, technology, media and marketing companies are now being invited to participate in a six-month public comment period, during which time participants can test-drive the label with up to fifty common syndicated audience segments provided by globally-recognised data solution providers such as Oracle Data Cloud, LiveRamp, Neustar, Lotame, Acxiom, Experian, TruSignal, Fluent and FullContact.

During the six-month public comment period, interested parties can explore how a Data Transparency Label can be used and accessed at DataLabel.org, an online tool that demonstrates how viewers could search, inspect, and compare sample labels housed either within a participating DMP/DSP platform, or directly on DataLabel.org as a distinct access point.

Along with ANA, IAB, IAB Tech Lab, CIMM, and ARF, this initiative is being driven by 15 association member companies, including a Leadership Committee that includes LiveRamp, MediaMath, Neustar and Oracle Data Cloud, and a working group that includes 1-800-FLOWERS, Acxiom, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Experian, FCB/SIX, FullContact, Fluent, Moxie, Publisher’s Clearing House, TruSignal, MetLife and the United States Postal Service.

“Client-side marketers and fundraisers have been demanding better standards around data quality and integrity. We felt it was important to corral several industry wide initiatives into one industry standard to enhance efficiency and to improve the toolset that client-side marketers and fundraisers use to make important decisions about data segments. In collaboration with CIMM, ARF, IAB and IAB Tech Lab we are delighted to bring this important tool in data transparency to market,” said Tom Benton, ANA Group EVP, DMA Division. “The industry now has a well-considered, easy to use and easy to understand label that clearly defines critical data source information. We hope that the transparency this label brings will be a driving force that improves data integrity, data quality, and the decisions that marketers and fundraisers make every day.”

“The Data Transparency Label enables meaningful understanding of segment attributes and sourcing practices across data providers,” said Dennis Buchheim, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “The collaboration with ANA, CIMM, ARF, and IAB – alongside complementary Tech Lab efforts to facilitate privacy-compliant data access and activation through a common ID namespace – enables more effective and responsible use of data in marketing and helps improve consumer ad experiences. As a whole, these initiatives provide a foundation to support digital marketing’s ongoing role in funding content and services.”

IAB launches blockchain pilot programme for digital ad standards

The IAB Technology Laboratory has unveiled its Blockchain Working Group’s pilot program to demonstrate the application and value of blockchain technology for digital advertising.

The initiative will provide a real-world mechanism for testing blockchain-based products and services, with a goal of applying learnings to develop an industry whitepaper outlining best practices and ultimately to develop standards to support the application of blockchain technology.

Several members of the IAB Tech Lab’s Blockchain Working Group are actively involved in the program, including FusionSeven, Kochava Labs, Lucidity, and MetaX. Each of their pilots will also include partners from across the supply chain, including advertisers, agencies, DSPs, exchanges/SSPs, publishers, and technology vendors.

For example, one pilot utilizss Lucidity’s ‘Layer 2’ infrastructure protocol to verify impressions and provide programmatic supply chain transparency through a neutral, decentralised shared ledger—capable of processing and verifying high volumes of data from multiple parties to reach consensus on the blockchain.

Lucidity’s initial pilot will be followed by a series of pilots including fee transparency, digital publisher signature, and audience verification.

In addition, MetaX launched its adChain Registry, a blockchain-driven list of brand-safe sites determined by token holders. FusionSeven and Kochava Labs will be sharing their pilot products at a later date.

“We’re dedicated to understanding advertisers’ and publishers’ needs and exploring emerging and established technologies that can solve real problems in digital advertising – in support of a clean, scalable, and efficient ecosystem,” said Dennis Buchheim, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “The Blockchain Working Group, which has over 150 member companies, is at the forefront of exploring industry standards and use cases for blockchain in digital advertising, and we’re looking forward to even more forward-thinking brands and key players joining the conversation.”

“There has been a lot of hype about blockchain, but no industry-backed, practical validation of its value for digital advertising—until now,” said Sam Kim, CEO, Lucidity. “It is vital that we begin testing and utilizing blockchain technology to address major pain points in programmatic from data discrepancies to supply chain transparency. We are excited to work with the IAB Tech Lab and other members to uncover insights and learnings that can drive the entire industry forward.”

To learn more about the IAB Tech Lab Blockchain Working Group, go to www.iabtechlab.com/blockchain-working-group.

digital marketing

UK digital ad spend up 17% in 2016, says PwC

A joint report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has found that investments in the digital advertising space are rising, driven by advertisers’ need to tap into the rising trend of mobile video.

Nearly half of all UK internet time is now spent on smartphones, with digital ad spend expected to have increased by 17% in 2016 to reach over £10 billion, marking the fastest growth rate within the industry for nine years.

The £10 billion threshold has never been crossed before.

Spend on mobile campaigns rose by more than 50% to reach over £3.9 billion, with overall mobile investment now accounting for 38%of all digital ad spend throughout Britain.

Spend on mobile video ads doubled to £693 million by the end of 2016.

“The rise in people consuming mobile and video content has accelerated digital’s growth rate to its highest level for nearly a decade,” said IAB’s UK chief marketing officer, James Chandler.

He added that reaching the £10bn threshold had been made possible by “brands breaking the mould, trying innovative formats and making the most of video to reach and amaze people.”

Discussing the ongoing debate regarding the transparency and brand safety of platforms such as YouTube, which according to Google gets  more than half of its views from mobile devices, Chandler added: “It’s impossible to ignore the issues the industry is facing at the moment, but digital never stands still.”

However, Sir Martin Sorrell, head of market-leading communications service group WPP said mobile was an “untapped” multi-billion dollar opportunity, which suffered through inadequate technology, causing advertisers to hold back on spending.

During an interview at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Sorrell said: “People are spending about a quarter of their time on mobile, and yet it only accounts for around 12% of spending – That’s out of kilter and it has to change.

“Technology, bandwidth, the devices, the screens are not big enough, not good enough yet,” he added. “There’s a lot of technological development to come.”