AD Tech Q&A: Bringing consistency and transparency to audience data through the Data Label

Posted by Christian Manie On April 16, 2020 Research & Resources

The Data Label initiative provides a clear, consistent and easily digested set of standards for audience data – allowing sellers to clearly specify where the data comes from, how it was collected and organised, its recency, if it was manipulated or modeled and what rules were used in establishing the data within any particular segments.

The required disclosures are based upon the IAB Tech Lab’s Data Transparency Standards – and the Labels themselves will be managed via with a searchable database to be released in Q2 2020.

The IAB Australia Data Council are seeking to build awareness and drive the adoption of these standards for the most commonly traded audience segments here in Australia – and have recently provided some further guidance and local examples.

In order to help embed the Data Label standards locally we’ve approached a few of our members with some questions in order to provide greater clarity around these standards, how they can be valuable to the digital marketing industry here and what the next steps will be. We hope that you find this useful…

Vishal Shah, Solutions Lead ANZ, MiQ Digital

Will the simplicity and clarity of the structure of the Data Label support you better in how you can help educate your clients in relation to the different audience data products that are currently available?

Definitely. What stands out for me with the Data Label is that it is simple, concise and at the same time captures key attributes of the methodology effectively. Right there, you have everything you need to know about the audience you’re about to buy. This also pushes for more accountability from buyers and the knowledge arms them to differentiate between audiences in a much better way. At MiQ, we constantly work with data providers to ensure our clients get access to the right audiences, and this clarity helps the client conversations immensely.

How useful will the Data Label be for you and your clients in terms of providing both consistency and transparency in relation to audience segments?

We are a data company ourselves and data connectivity sits at the heart of what we do. One of the most important steps for us is to know what data to use at what time and connect to what other data. Having a consistent and industry-standard definition agreed between various companies in the marketplace helps us do this qualification in a more accurate manner, because we are all speaking the same language now. Additionally, clients are always keen to dive deep into the makeup of their target audience, and this level of transparency also helps build more trust.

Moritz von Sanden, National Sales Director, Audience360

How will the consistent approach to audience data segments through the Data Label enable Audience360 to provide greater clarity around the breadth, depth and quality of your audience data segments?

Digital advertising has seen a meteoric rise over the past decade and with it we have seen an explosion of new technology and methodology to continuously try and improve on what audience targeting means. With the increased amount of AdTech available to brands and agencies, the landscape has become crowded and complicated and we have also seen the line between what is possible and what is hyperbole getting less and less clear.

The IAB Data Label levels the playing field and forces clarity through standardised simplicity to ensure that the audience purchased is what it says it is. First party data networks like Audience360 have been at the forefront of transparent audience targeting in Australia for many years and, being able to compare apples with apples through the use of the IAB data label will ensure that media agencies and brands know exactly what they’re spending money on and are able to better take out the guesswork in analysing the effectiveness of audiences.

As we build for the future in digital advertising – how will the improved levels of transparency enable us to better clarify the value exchange for consumers whilst also better supporting the investment returns for both brands and publishers?

Transparency in digital media is vital for consumer trust in the advertising industry. As an industry we need to promote consumer education to understand that the internet isn’t free. There is a value exchange, paid for by brands through advertising. This positioning is incredibly difficult when we are unable to clearly communicate the value (data) the user is exchanging.

On the brand marketing side, we must work towards an understanding of audiences and in order to do so we need transparency. Algorithms and black boxes operate campaigns in an arbitrary fashion. By engaging transparent and valued data partners brands can have measurable impact and an ROI that can withstand the greatest challenges in the modern economy. If the composition of an audience is a guess by the client, the analysis that it produces can, at best, be an educated guess.

Transparency supports strategy, action and results which are measured and accountable. Transparency simply means honesty and just like a consumer wouldn’t buy a black box that says milk on it without a nutrition or a use by date label, a brand equally shouldn’t sell such a product. This data label initiative is a great step in the right direction for greater trust and better understanding which will help grow and improve the industry as a whole.

Tom Gregory, Country Manager Australia & New Zealand, Lifesight

How do you envisage utilising the Data Labels standards moving forwards with your clients?

To drive adoption, Lifesight and other companies will need to compile, store and make Data Label information available for their full audience data taxonomies. To distribute and update Data Label information easily we are looking to include IAB Data Label fields for all Lifesight taxonomy segments in Lifesight Flux, our Audience Data and Insights platform, that buyers will have access to. It’s exciting being part of something new and with that there may well be some changes and adaptations necessary, so we’ll be looking to the IAB for direction on this as the Data Label and Transparency standards are adopted.

Will the consistency and transparency bring greater quality assurance locally for all forms audience data related products?

Yes, I believe it can. Understanding where and when data is from, how segments are constructed and being able to compare segment attributes like for like should allow for increased quality control. And if better informed audience data selection is delivering better results for clients, confidence in audience data products grows. Audience data products will undergo significant change this year and next but even in a cookie-less future these principles hold up.

Benjamin Dick, Senior Director of Product, IAB Tech Lab

What’s next for this standard in terms of a searchable and/or addressable database and also a marketplace API?

IAB Tech Lab plans to have version 1.0 of the marketplace live by the end of Q2 2020. We are also currently testing the supported API in a limited release, and are confident of making it available to the general market alongside the marketplace launch.

What are the requirements and benefits of the IAB Tech Lab Data Label compliance program?

IAB Tech Lab’s compliance program is available to any organization that offers data, whether syndicated separately or bundled alongside with media – and is also open to adoption by data marketplaces where data is bought and sold. Those organizations that complete the compliance program affirm their full commitment to the highest standards of audience data transparency.

Completion of the program requires an annual business audit to confirm that the information provided within the labeling is reliable, that the organization has the necessary systems, processes, and personnel in place to sustain consistent label completion at scale, and that a label can be produced for all in-market segments available. Engagements typically range between 2-5 months, depending upon the size and complexity of the company’s business. Upon completion, an organization will:

♦ Be issued an IAB Tech Lab compliance seal confirming their adherence to transparency principles and best practices.

♦ Have their labeling data populated alongside other compliant data within a centralized Tech Lab operated search and discovery tool called

The population of data will take place either via integrations with participating data marketplaces, or via direct upload if the provider doesn’t work with a participating marketplace. Note, this repository is only intended for Tech Lab members and will only house descriptive segment labels instead of the segment IDs themselves (and thus can’t be used for platform activations).

For further information on compliance details and pricing, please review this requirements guide and schedule time with the Tech Lab team by completing this on-boarding questionnaire.

Christian Manie