UK digital ad spend fell 5% YoY between Jan-June 2020, a reflection of the impact that the global Covid-19 pandemic has had – however digital consumption has surged in the wake of shifting behaviours, with video ad spend in particular rising 5.7% in H1 2020. This drop in ad spend is not representative of time spent online, which hit record levels as people turn to digital sources for news, social contact and entertainment.

Supporting the growth of ad spend continues to be paramount for those in digital media, but there are mounting concerns that, while spend increases, the quality of digital buying practice is being neglected. As such, the7stars has a keen focus in 2021 and beyond on maintaining operational excellence and supporting initiatives like IAB Gold Standard.

IAB’s Gold Standard Certification aims to improve the digital advertising experience for all users, by combating ad fraud and safeguarding brands through safety protocols. With IAB reporting increased digital consumption, it is ever more important to minimise risk to brands and make sure quality is maintained.

Accordingly, the IAB has published its Gold Standard 2.0 for digital media planning, a series of best-practice initiatives that will keep digital growing in the years to come. Guidance ranges from supplier-side tech implementations to guides for creatives to ensuring brand safety. The steps include:

Reducing fraud through the ads.txt initiative: Ads.txt is a mechanism on websites that allows the owners of content to declare who is allowed to sell inventory. It means that when we see ads for sale programmatically, we can be sure that the ad we are buying is legitimate, which in turn goes some way to stopping rogue traders profiting from counterfeit inventory.

Encouraging suppliers to implement Sellers.json and OpenRTB Supply Chain Object: The Sellers.json file will effectively enable SSPs and exchanges to list their authorised reseller partners, along with seller ID. The SupplyChainObject lets buyers view what sellers and resellers have been involved during a bid request. This will build confidence for buyers and DSPs to use the open exchange having validated each reseller involved in the process.

LEAN Principles from the Coalition for Better Advertising: LEAN is an acronym used to represent best practice in terms of digital ad specs: Light file sizes and strict controls on data; Encrypted; Ad Choices logo; and Non-intrusive. Together this adds up to a better user experience: ads load faster, users know why the ad has been served to them the ads are non-invasive.

Never use the 12 bad ads: There are 12 ad formats that shouldn’t be on any media plan – the key ones are pop-ups and auto-play sound-on video.

Working with JICWEBS DTSG: This is a series of principles to follow that will secure a safer environment for online advertising placements by certifying vendors and content.

All in all, these steps work towards the goal of making digital ads safer for brands to buy and better for the users they are being served to. Essentially, the key messages are around due diligence – being sure of the ads you are buying – and perspective – considering whether, as a user, you would be happy if you were served this ad in this manner.

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