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UAE, Gulf advertising industry brings regulations to tackle digital ad frauds, malware threats

November 17, 2021

Dubai: Influential advertising industry members in the UAE and Gulf are coming together to tighten up regulations related to digital ads and the way they are used. This way, the industry hopes to protect brand safety in the online space – as well as take on “criminal activity” that tries to use brand messages for their own purposes.

The attempt at self-regulation digital ads brings together the Advertising Business Group, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s GCC chapter, and the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). They will launch the latter’s international benchmarks in the GCC and wider region.

The TAG standards are already applied in multiple markets – 34 countries and counting – and by leading advertisers, more than 700 companies as of now. “The standards will not be mandated by the IAB or ABG, but advertisers and agencies may well include this as part of their decision process when selecting advertising placements, as many do in other parts of the world,” said a spokesperson.

Take on the malware menace

This way, companies will be able minimize the risk of ad misplacements via TAG’s Brand Safety certification. From January 1, the TAG measures will include specific anti digital piracy requirements as well as tackle head-on the menace of ‘malvertising’, which is about introducing malware into online advertising.

Elda Choucair, CEO of Omnicom Media Group (OMG) MENA and Vice-Chair of ABG, said: “As digital investments continue to grow, so does the need for increased vigilance on ad-fraud, brand safety risk and malware. By supporting this initiative to encourage adoption of TAG’s certifications, we hope to drive a more sustainable, transparent and trustworthy industry where advertisers and agencies can be confident in the investments they are making.”

A big leap

Similar self-regulatory efforts have been there for other traditional advertising practices for years now. But trying to get a grip on the exponential growth on digital advertising – and all the downsides that come in its wake – has proved elusive.

This newly developed triple alliance represents the first serious attempt to try and get digital advertising to play be certain standards in the Gulf. “TAG’s standards set out requirements for all companies involved in digital advertising – advertiser, agency, intermediary and publisher,” the spokesperson said. “For example, employing Invalid Traffic (IVT) detection and removal. The Brand Safety standard specifically requires all companies to ensure that all digital advertising agreements adhere to brand safety and anti-piracy principles.”

TAG’s Certified Against Fraud standard has led to declines in digital ad related frauds in the US, key markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The fraud instances are over 90 per cent lower when advertisers use TAG certified distribution channels compared to industry averages.

Ian Manning, CEO of IAB GCC, said: “Not only will this support many international business’ existing approaches, but it will also raise the benchmark for local ones – reducing fraud, stimulating growth and driving trust in our industry.”

How will the TAG standards help?

These will help tackle ad frauds as well as promoting brand safety (such as minimizing the risk of ad misplacement) in digital advertising. The aim is to boost trust and transparency, and protect brand investment in digital ad spending.