WASHINGTON, DC: Digital ads run in accordance with standards set by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) witness significantly lower levels of invalid traffic, a new study from the organisation has shown.

TAG commissioned The 614 Group, a digital advertising consultancy, to conduct a benchmarking study based on 6.5bn display and video ad impressions served by GroupM, IPG Mediabrands and Horizon Media from July to the end of October 2017.

And it reported that the amount of invalid traffic in digital advertising hit 8.8% for display inventory in North America – a total growing to 12% upon incorporating video inventory in the mix. (For more, read WARC's in-depth report: TAG's tips for tackling ad fraud.)

When using channels that have been certified by TAG, however, the invalid traffic figure came in at 1.5%. This result equates to an 83% decline when compared with the wider industry average.

These favourable outcomes occurred when various parties in an advertising transaction – say, the media agency, buy-side platform, sell-side platform or publisher – had previously been awarded the “TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal”.

Among the criteria buyers must meet to earn this status are appointing a TAG compliance officer and following guidelines from the Media Rating Council, the measurement body.

Sellers must fulfil these same stipulations and meet requirements around filtering out bad actors and the disclosure of publisher traffic sources. Intermediaries like ad networks adhere to similar rules, plus a TAG payment protocol.

“Fraud thrives in the dark crevices of the supply chain, so we knew that we had to get the legitimate participants in the supply chain to adopt the same high standards for this effort to be successful,” said Mike Zaneis, TAG’s President/CEO.

“When the industry links its arms and stands together, there is no place left for the criminals to hide.”

Bob Liodice, President/CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, a trade organisation that has called for greater transparency in the marketing ecosystem, struck a similar tone.

“The results of this study are extraordinary and demonstrate that the ‘war on fraud’ is winnable” he said. “Marketers must recognise that fraud, piracy and malware rob brands of their business building power.

“By joining and working with TAG – and its demonstrated process for success – brands can energise their marketing investments and elevate their potential for growth.”

TAG was originally created by the ANA, the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

To date, over 170 companies have participated in the TAG Certified Against Fraud Program, and 49 have obtained the “Certified Against Fraud Seal”. The amount of certified companies has more than doubled since April 2017.

Sourced from TAG; additional content by WARC staff