I've been blogging for ages now that this is the only way we can combat ad fraud because when you think about it, ad exchanges have a monetary incentive to do nothing about criminals luring ad dollars on to fake sites until the agencies controlling those budgets call time on them. Now that GroupM has acted it is unthinkable that other agencies will sit idly by. With billions of dollars worth of media agency deals being negotiated right now, how can Group M's rivals allow it to take such a lead role in the fight against ad fraud?
GroupM's bold move comes through backing the The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) anti-fraud measures, which aim to spot fake sites or malpractice and stop ads from being sent there. The programme has the backing of the IAB, 4A's and ANA in America -- in other words, both adland and brands -- and requires companies to only worth with TAG-registered companies.
It would be very easy to say something along the lines of "what took you so long," but in fairness to all sides, there hasn't been a central programme that all could gather round until now. With no industry-wide anti-fraud platform for the good guys to sign up to, it's been pretty hard to do the right thing. The UK is a good example. There are certifications underway via IAB UK, but until there is a widely agreed upon flag that companies CAN raise and salute, it's hard to see how a media buyer can do the right thing by his or her clients.
That's what makes the GroupM announcement so exciting for an industry that truly needs to clean up its act. Media agencies are under intense pressure to prove their worth, given that several billion dollars worth of new deals are currently being negotiated. Brands want to be assured they can beat the widely quoted industry averages of only half of their inventory being seen by a human. It's not a great deal to ask, is it? Annoyance at only half of your budget ending up in front of a human is pretty understandable, isn't it?
And therein lies the rub. I've been chatting to adland execs and they are more than aware that many brands are sorely tempted to build their own technology and bypass a media agency altogether, or at least bypass their trading desk. Some smaller well-known brands are already doing this and when a massive FMCG follows suit, there will be major alarm bells ringing around the industry's holding companies.
It will now be interesting to see who follows suit, and how soon.
If media agencies want to win decent slices of the unprecedented amount of business that is currently looking to be renewed, or rehoused, it's hard to imagine they can resist the temptation to follow GroupM's lead. The ad exchanges were never going to sort out this problem without a massive nudge from the media agencies and now that is happening, the media agencies will be asking one thing.
Have we done enough, soon enough to stop one of these massive accounts going solo? Time will tell.