IAB Proposes Framework To Standardize Targeting Data

IAB Tech Lab is proposing a new framework aimed at giving buyers more granular information about the type of consumer data that fuels targeted advertising.

The organization says the proposal -- which includes labeling requirements and a new naming convention -- could result in more efficient ads. "Without a consistent and flexible approach to data organization and labeling throughout the supply chain, the possibility of attribute misclassification increases, producing more intrusive consumer ad experiences, less efficient advertising investment, and diminished monetization opportunities for publishers," the IAB Tech Lab writes in its proposed "Data Transparency Framework."

Currently, buyers who arrange to target ads so they reach people in particular marketing segments don't necessarily know how those segments have been created, the IAB Tech Lab writes.

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"Although audience attributes are frequently applied as a targeting parameter, it is often done without a thorough understanding by the buyer regarding the extent to which the segment description -- like “Auto Intender” -- actually reflects individuals or households that are in the market for a car, how the segment accuracy could be affected by the business practices or technical capabilities of the seller, or the extent to which business rules / logic that govern ID inclusion might differ as data is passed from one supply chain participant to the next," the IAB Tech Lab writes.

In other words, consumers currently can land in particular marketing segments in a variety of ways. People can place themselves in marketing buckets by answering survey questions, or otherwise declaring an interest in a product or service. But people also can end up in particular marketing segments based on information that is observed about their web activity, or due to modeling techniques.

The IAB Tech Lab's proposed framework aims to offer standardized information about the factors that have gone into placing people into marketing segments, including where the data attribute was sourced, when it was collected and made available to buyers, and to what extent the data was modeled.

While the new framework may offer buyers more granular information, it doesn't aim to address whether the targeting data is accurate, the IAB Tech Lab says. "Specifically it does not establish: 1) a point of view or definition of what 'quality' segment data means, given that the notion of quality is subjective and relative to use case, 2) a way of vetting the extent to which segment descriptions reflect audience attributes of users ... or 3) a mechanism for buyers to evaluate the extent to which audience data will impact KPI performance or marketing outcomes," the IAB Tech Lab writes. "These functions represent opportunities for individual marketplace participants and / or trade group guidance."

In the future, the framework could also capture information about consumers' consent to data collection, a spokesperson for the IAB Tech Lab says. 

The organization will accept comments on the proposed framework through July 16.

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