IAB Member Q&A: How industry standards drive business

Posted by IAB Australia On June 11, 2020 Research & Resources

Standards are sexy: how industry standards drive business

In simple terms, standards are generally accepted requirements followed by the members of an industry. These exist across many areas of media, including digital advertising.

There are organizations within the advertising and media industry that oversee the development and revision of standards including industry bodies such as IAB and IAB Tech Lab. The IAB and IAB Tech Lab work with the industry at large to develop guidelines, write specs, develop technology and provide services in an effort to bring alignment, and standardization to increase trust and transparency and provide confidence to marketers investing in digital advertising.

So, how have digital advertising industry standards helped drive business for IAB members?

Erica Blakslee, Senior Account Director, Xandr

The AANA, MFA and IAB are about to launch an update to the Australian Digital Advertising Practices covering digital transparency, viewability, ad fraud, brand safety and data transparency. Why are these practices important and how have they helped your business?

From the start, Xandr has aimed to create a better solution for advertisers and publishers to find and reach specific audiences in trusted, premium content environments. Placing advertising in premium, measurable, targetable and brand-safe environments is essential to brand building and performance marketing efforts and we have therefore made it a priority to provide such an environment for our customers.

Earning the trust of both customers and consumers is critical for success and is largely reliant on the factors highlighted by the Australian Digital Advertising practices. As such, we support the group’s commitment to facilitating better relationships with agencies, publishers and digital platforms, and to fostering shared responsibilities for digital ad spends and outcomes.

At Xandr, we are committed to the responsible and transparent collection and use of personal data as evidenced by our partnership with key trade bodies like the IAB and participation in privacy-focused industry groups. We believe these practices are critical in respecting the fundamental right of individuals to the protection of their personal data; bringing regulators and companies together in collaboration; and increasing transparency in the digital ecosystem.

How do standards contribute to a transparent, efficient digital media supply chain matters and why are they important now more than ever?

Programmatic advertising heralded meaningful improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and scale. However, it also introduced a somewhat complicated supply chain that at times, can lack transparency. As a result, marketers can struggle to answer basic questions about where their working media dollars are going and what portion of their spend ends up with publishers. In order to combat these challenges, standards must be proposed and implemented by industry and governing bodies as well as technology platforms to improve transparency across the supply chain.

While efforts to create a more transparent and efficient supply chain are always a priority, they are especially important during times of uncertainty. Brands need reassurance that their media spend is being maximised and reaching publishers and that their messages are reaching the right audiences via premium content. Publishers and media companies need reassurance that their demand can be met and that they can monetise their inventory. All the while, consumers need reassurance that their personal data is being protected and that they are enjoying an optimal viewing experience.

Upon complying with standards, buyers and sellers will offer a higher degree of transparency to all sides of the equation. Further, policies that provide media transparency, insight into the type of auction that occurred, and technology fee transparency, which enables buyers to see fees deducted by the SSP, can make a true impact for the entire ecosystem.

Jessica Miles, Country Manager, Integral Ad Science

The AANA, MFA, and IAB are about to launch an update to the Australian Digital Advertising Practices covering digital transparency, viewability, ad fraud, brand safety and data transparency. Why are these practices important and how have they helped your business?

Digital is difficult. Even more so than other channels which is why it’s even more important that initiatives like Australian Digital Advertising Practices are available to the industry to educate, communicate, and inspire.

Given that digital is difficult it becomes even more important for advertisers to have a thorough understanding of its key practices, which includes media quality metrics such as viewability, ad fraud, and brand safety. Additionally, it’s important to grasp the impact that these practices have on media buying and trading practices. Poor media quality is a complete waste of advertiser money and can generate significant negative value. In some cases, investing in poor media quality does not only drive significant inefficiencies but can also negatively impact brand value and fund criminal activities, breeding bad behaviour. This need to invest in high-quality impressions, those that are viewable, fraud-free, and brand-safe is unique to digital and requires a high level of transparency from all media players to be successful.

Digital essentially introduces an axis of negative value (non-viewable, unsafe, fraudulent impressions) and therefore potential inefficiencies, which isn’t a challenge in the more traditional channels. By understanding media quality and harnessing high-quality media, it creates a more efficient and effective market, with publishers providing quality impressions and advertisers integrating media quality strategies and goals into their media trading practices. The first step to achieving this is having an understanding of the baseline concepts in the context of the wider digital ecosystem. This is where the Australian Digital Advertising Practices plays an important role.

Digital is increasingly complex, and initiatives like the Australian Digital Advertising Practices can educate and move the market towards more efficient buying practices. It increases education and understanding into digital transparency, viewability, ad fraud, brand safety, and data transparency which would otherwise be difficult to understand, and additionally, it presents it in the context of the wider digital environment.

How do standards contribute to a transparent, efficient digital media supply chain matters and why are they important now more than ever?

Media quality standards have created a market where investing in high-quality media is a zero-sum game. It’s no longer possible for publishers to create millions of brand-safe and suitable, fraud-free viewable ad slots on the whim. We are seeing buyers weaponise their media trading practices to build sustainable competitive advantage and outmaneuver the competition. Part of this weaponisation is the ability to invest in high-quality media for the most value, which is now being facilitated by the increasing transparency in the supply chain. Essentially, streamlining media buying to only the most efficient and cost-effective pathways.

Standards drive increased accountability which enables all parties to transact transparently and through this transparency, it enables efficiency. With standards and increased accountability, it makes it possible for all parties involved to understand what is spent at each hop of the supply path. This transparency enables advertisers to understand how and where their money is being spent and how effectively it is being used.

With this transparency, it means more money is flowing to parties that deserve it and efficient parties are being rewarded for their strong performance. Essentially, a publisher or vendor in the supply chain that is driving results for their advertisers will be financially rewarded for it, as the advertiser optimises their spending to these vendors and publishers. This is only possible from increased transparency in the supply chain which is a direct result of the standards that are put in place.

As the strong and efficient performers are rewarded, the poor performance or bad actors are weeded out as their inefficiencies are addressed by a lack of investment.

This transparency drives further efficiency in the supply chain by making it harder for fraudsters or ‘bad actors’ to ‘game the system’ and also diverting investment to the vendors and publishers that deserve it. For the advertisers, they are rewarded with paths and publishers that are delivering the highest quality media for the most value.

Adele Wieser, Regional Managing Director, APAC, Index Exchange

The AANA, MFA and IAB are about to launch an update to the Australian Digital Advertising Practices covering digital transparency, viewability, ad fraud, brand safety and data transparency. Why are these practices important and how have they helped your business?

Transparency, viewability, ad fraud and brand safety have been hot topics amongst the industry for many years now. Though transparency is essential to both the growth and sustainability of our industry, we need to further this conversation and begin focusing on accountability. Instead of acting as a company differentiator, transparency and accountability should be a shared value amongst all players in the ecosystem; we need to ensure we’re not just having this conversation, but also taking action.  From our perspective, we’re working to build products and solutions that lift the veil on our industry’s inner workings. We also strive to hold ourselves, our partners and our peers accountable, ensuring we’re collectively able to propel the industry forward and create a more transparent ecosystem.

All of this needs to be done with the end-user in mind. Our shared mission should be ensuring our clients, partners, and their users are able to trust our industry’s operations.

How do standards contribute to a transparent, efficient digital media supply chain matters and why are they important now more than ever?

Standards help to establish a set of uniform processes and practices by which all players in the industry are encouraged to abide. The digital (or programmatic) advertising industry is largely regulated through codes of conduct. When it comes to transparency, these standards help to provide insight into digital advertising practices, thus improving visibility and understanding into how advertising dollars are passed through the supply chain. That said, we need to ensure we’re holding ourselves accountable and equipping our partners (be they buyers or sellers) to understand the ecosystem and supply chain in which they’re participating. All parties need to have end-to-end visibility into the supply chain.

Natalie Stanbury, Director of Research, IAB Australia

Why is it important to have industry standards for content audience measurement? How has it helped publishers/ad agencies present and evaluate opportunities for advertisers?

For nearly 10 years the IAB has endorsed a sole and exclusive provider for the measurement of digital audience content consumption. This sole and exclusive provider status was first appointed by the IAB in 2011 at a time when the online space had been using a variety of measurement tools, making it extremely difficult for advertisers to compare and understand the value of digital audiences across media properties.

The move to an industry supported standardised currency, provided by independent measurement provider Nielsen, gave a level playing field for comparison of audience qualities and characteristics and hence greater confidence to advertisers for planning decisions on where to invest their media budgets. It also helped media owners to demonstrate the unique attributes of their properties and help commercialisation of their content.

An industry currency is as important in today’s intensely competitive advertising market as it was back in 2011. Advertisers need accountability for their investments and ways to evaluate opportunities and measure success consistently across all media. Providing industry standard cross-media measurement is vital to meet their needs. Standards within each media channel set a platform for cross-media measurement but it is only with industry-wide collaboration and agreement on principles, consistent definitions and fair metrics across all media that we can bring measurement systems together and ultimately assist advertisers make smarter cross-media investment decisions.

Today browsers and governments are reacting to consumer demands for greater privacy protection and the cookie, much relied on for measurement, will soon disappear. Into the future media-quality, privacy compliant measurement panels provided by industry agreed suppliers will become even more important in delivering people-based audience data for advertising planning and campaign performance measurement across the whole market.

We are currently seeing advertisers highlight the importance of transparency in the ad tech space. The IAB Measurement Council, with representatives from 13 media owners and the MFA, oversees the evolution of content measurement methodologies and ensures that the techniques employed are transparent and understood by the market.

Having industry standards for audience measurement allows for a set of criteria that is accepted by advertisers, agencies and media, to guide future measurement as it evolves further in this rapidly moving space, with an eye to cross-media measurement that everyone seeks.

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.