Trustworthy Accountability Group Creates Anti-Piracy Standard

TAGConcerned about buying inventory around pirated content? A certification created by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) will empower vendors to buy inventory from publishers serving unpirated content.

“Brands can now say we only want to deal with people who are TAG-certified. We’ve created a marketplace dynamic and structure in the ad ecosystem,” said Stu Ingis, an advertising industry-focused attorney for Venable, which drafted the criteria to evaluate the vendors’ ability to root out piracy. “Our hope and belief is that it will be widely adopted, and put credibility and consistency into the marketplace.”

While many vendors promise to prevent ad placements on sites with pirated content, the TAG certification standardizes this promise, making it easier for advertisers to select inventory from approved sellers.

That includes programmatic channels: An advertiser could choose to bid or not based on a TAG certification. Ingis expects that transactions using TAG standards will begin in about six months. TAG was established in September by the IAB, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the ANA.

Here’s how it works.

First, vendors will become Digital Advertising Assurance Providers (DAAPs) by proving to independent evaluators that they meet certain criteria, like being able to identify ads on pirated sites, preventing their placement and preventing payment to those sellers.

The evaluators will give each DAAP an accuracy percentage. Companies intending to go through the process include Collective, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, MiMTiD/KPMG/L3, sovrn, Veri-Site and whiteBULLET.

Sellers themselves will also have to be certified. Likely, ad networks will be among the first sellers to go through the process of being certified.

Big publishers who don’t want to work with an outside vendor (Google would be a likely candidate) can self-certify with their own tech.

TAG initially had a hard time defining pirated content, Ingis said, until it settled on a definition based on what Ingis calls an at-risk entity (ARE), which means there is a “reasonable, discernable risk that the content is unauthorized or pirated, illegal material.” This allows TAG to avoid a legal debate about the content.

“Advertisers don’t really care if it meets the specific legal standard or not,” Ingis said. “They just don’t want their ads on sites that are not credible or legitimate.”

TAG will have some bite to it: If a publisher displays a certification it did not actually receive, the organization can sue.

TAG’s attention on piracy will be followed by standards addressing fraud that focus on establishing protocols and ensuring bad actors won’t be rewarded (or paid). The two issues are intertwined, said TAG CEO Linda Wooley.

“Today’s program on piracy establishes a system where companies that provide anti-piracy tools can be validated, and the those validated companies (DAAPs) can be hired by companies on the front end (marketers and agencies) or on the back end (networks and exchanges),” she explained. “Identifying and rooting out pirated content will definitely cut down on a certain type of fraud.”


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