IAB Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) FAQ

  1. What is the Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) Program?
    The Quality Assurance Guidelines are an industry backed brand safety and transparency compliance program created by the IAB. It is a set of disclosures a seller makes to a buyer regarding all the characteristics of the media they are selling. It helps establish trust between buyers and sellers in a complex and ever-changing digital advertising ecosystem and in doing so promotes the flow of advertising budgets into digital advertising.  It helps buyers know which sellers to trust and helps sellers prove their integrity.
     
  2. What are the main changes in the recently published QAG 2.0 guidelines compared to the earlier QAG 1.5 guidelines?
    The QAG program has recently been updated and published as QA Guidelines 2.0.  The main changes have resulted in the Program being:
    • Expanded to include ALL buyers and sellers of advertising including networks and exchanges, premium publishers, supply side platforms (SSPs), demand side platforms (DSPs), marketers, agencies and trading desks
    • Strengthened compliance with the introduction of an option for independent third-party validation of a company’s certification
    • Updated to reflect video, mobile and programmatic buying disclosures given the increasing importance of these platforms
       
  3. What is the value of QAG to buyers?
    For buyers, the Quality Assurance Guidelines seal represents a symbol of trust and a guide to which sellers are good actors in the industry and should be considered in your planning. QAG was created through joint efforts by buyers and sellers and represents the buyers’ voice to sellers in defining terms for seller disclosure.
     
  4. What is the value of QAG to sellers? (merge with one below about “How does this help my business”)
    QAG certification helps sellers demonstrate that they have achieved a new level of excellence in trust, transparency, quality and safety. Doing so makes buying advertising easier, which will increase overall demand for QAG-certified sellers. QAG enables all certified companies in the inventory supply chain to be classified as industry leaders, which clearly distinguishes them from any bad actors.
     
  5. What do companies have to do to be “certified” under the QA Guidelines?
    Any company that sells inventory in the digital advertising supply chain can quality for QA Guideline certification. Companies, who wish to apply for certification need to apply on the IAB website, appoint a compliance officer, who must attend training on the guidelines and pay the certification fee.  The company must then ensure their internal practices follow the guidelines. Once you have completed this process, there are two tiers of certification: self-certification and independent validation.  For self-certification, a company must submit their internal audit documents and self-attestations by the compliance officer and business lead that they are adhering to the guidelines.    For independent validation, in addition to the self-certification requirements a company needs to invite an independent vendor to validate that the company is QAG-compliant and attest to the same.
     
  6. What happens if a QAG compliant company breaks the guidelines?
    A company that is party to a QAG-certified transaction may submit a complaint against the other party of the transaction regarding any non-compliance experienced.  This complaint is submitted to the IAB a committee of industry peers, the QAG Steering Committee reviews the complaint and determines if it is valid.
     
  7. How do I make a complaint about a QAG compliant company?
    Complaints made against a QAG-certified company may be one of two complaint types: QAG non-compliance or Intellectual Property (IP) infringement. Details of the complaints mechanism for each type of complaint can be found on the main QAG homepage www.iab.net/QAG
     
  8. Can a company be kicked out of the QAG program?
    Yes. If a company receives three or more valid complaints against it in a six-month period and the valid complaints are not resolved within that six-month period certification for that company is removed.
     
  9.  Is there an independent 3rd party that checks that a company is compliant with the QA Guidelines?
    There are two tiers of certification: self-certification and independent validation. For independent validation, in addition to the self-certification requirements a company needs to invite an independent vendor, such as a CPA or Attorney or a company who has applied and been approved by the IAB for accreditation, to validate that the company is QAG-compliant and attest to the same.
     
  10. How does the QAG program link to the White House best practices on copyright infringement?
    The White House recently endorsed industry self-regulatory efforts to commit to a set of best practices to address online infringement by reducing the flow of ad revenue to operators of sites engaged in significant piracy and counterfeiting.  These require companies to using an inventory vetting solution such as the IAB Quality Assurance Guidelines.
     
  11. Will the QAG program stop ads appearing next to copyright infringing content?
    The QAG has specific clauses and conditions related to prohibited content of all sorts including those related to IP protection and piracy.  In addition it has recently added a specific complaint mechanism to allow rights holders to lodge a complaint with the relevant QAG participating company.
     
  12. How long do companies have to certify under the new QA Guidelines 2.0?
    A company has six months following their application to complete the process for certification.
     
  13. How does QA Guidelines Certification differ from ad verification?
    The guidelines are an industry backed set of best practices and disclosures; they are a way to represent to the market a seller’s involvement in a community of trust. The fees for joining this program are significantly lower than any technology solution.
     
  14. What happens once a company agrees to certify?
    The first step is to choose a compliance officer who completes the QAG training program. This officer is meant to be the QAG champion of your company helping others understand what is required to complete the process. The company must then ensure their internal practices follow the guidelines. Once you have completed this process, there are two tiers of certification: self-certification and independent validation.  For self-certification, a company must submit their internal audit documents and self-attestations by the compliance officer and business lead that they are adhering to the guidelines.    For independent validation, in addition to the self-certification requirements a company needs to invite an independent vendor to validate that the company is QAG-compliant and attest to the same.
     
  15. What actually goes into the description of methodology (DOM)?
    The DOM in simple terms is the guide to how your company executes the QAG program, it’s a statement of processes and workflows which describe your method of completion. If you are to undergo a 3rd party validation this document will be the key to the 3rd party’s efforts in reviewing your processes.
     
  16. What is the IAB doing to get more buyers to acknowledge the program?
    The IAB is actively marketing and messaging the need for quality inventory programs and brand safety and the value this can bring to the whole digital advertising industry.
     
  17. How many companies are certified to date?
    There are currently 37 companies involved in the Quality Assurance Program with 29 currently compliant and the remaining 8 in the process of obtaining certification.
     
  18. What does it cost to be involved in QAG?
    Certification is open to any company that sells inventory in the digital advertising supply chain. Certification costs $7,500 per year for IAB members and $10,000 per year for non IAB members.  In addition other companies involved in the digital advertising supply chain can choose to be a supporting member of the QAG program. Supporting members are companies that create an environment for others to certify and improve the overall functioning of the digital advertising ecosystem. Supporting membership costs $5,000 per year.
     
  19. How long does the certification last?
    The QAG Program enrollment period is annual beginning on April 1 of a program year and extending until March 31 of the next calendar year. Enrollment in the QAG program will automatically renew at the end of each program year for the following year.