At first, it seems counter-intuitive. For the digital interactive industry, which is dominated by the promise of free thinking and dynamic innovation, the notion of setting rules, parameters and guidelines seems almost anathema.
However, efficient marketplaces are built on transparency and information. Clear and common language enables sellers to efficiently describe advertising inventory to buyers. As such guidelines are vital to earning the trust of brands and ultimately to sustaining the growth we have enjoyed in our industry.
Of course, setting even the most basic rules around quality in digital advertising is a challenge. There are a myriad of industry stakeholders and many of the issues are complex. In short, this is exactly the sort of challenge that the Interactive Advertising Bureau was designed to tackle — hence the Quality Assurance Guidelines emerged in 2008. However, the original Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) are already four years old in digital advertising years - which seems like a century on the human scale. Accordingly, last year we began the process of refreshing QAG.
As we set out to recast, update and fine-tune the parameters for digital advertising within the next iteration of the “Quality Assurance Guidelines”, we are faced with the emergence of programmatic buying as well as the continued growth of new areas such as mobile and video. Additionally, we faced the issue of describing advertising inventory across multiple devices.
Not exactly for the faint of heart.
Fortunately, we were able to draw on the collective expertise of dozens of professionals from across the ecosystem - both buyers and sellers of digital advertising. It’s worthwhile considering the kinds of participants who joined in developing this initiative: large publishers, large networks, trading desks, demand side platforms, supply side platforms and agencies - among others. The incredible support of these companies has resulted in a robust new set of guidelines that will be made available for public comment in the next few weeks.
1. Understand the information requirements of advertising buyers
2. Define the parameters, definitions and common language for advertising seller disclosures
3. Ensure the guidelines define and enable clear, easy-to-understand descriptions that meet the requirements of advertising buyers
4. Review compliance amongst QAG certified companies and facilitate the resolution of disputes and complaints
These guidelines are the single industry-backed initiative designed to reduce friction and foster an environment of trust in the marketplace by providing clear common language that describes characteristics of advertising inventory and transactions across the advertising value chain.
As we approach the end of the drafting phase of QAG 2.0 and look forward to the start of a public comment period, we encourage you to consider how these guidelines apply to your company. For sellers of advertising, this initiative allows you to certify your company as being compliant with this language which gives buyers of advertising confidence in your offering. If your company hasn’t yet become QAG certified, the time is now to get involved in this increasingly important initiative.
As we move towards public comment, we invite you to get involved in the process and share your perspectives. Buyers of advertising are increasingly relying on the QAG guidelines and we will be where the QAG 2.0 spec is almost ready to launch, and as the Beatles’ song goes, it could be an impressive and vital turning point for the digital sector, all we need is a “little help from my friends.” Hoping we can count you among them.