AOP Chief Warns Against Tech Vendors Who Misuse Publisher Data

Publishers and advertisers are being victimized by unscrupulous tech vendors who collect publisher meta data and article text to build contextual audience segments for their own commercial gain without permission, according to an open letter released Monday by the The Association of Online Publishers (AOP).

“Understanding that programmatic buyers need media quality assurance, publishers have enabled data access for content verification vendors,"writes Richard Reeves, managing director of the AOP. "But as fading third-party cookie use has fueled demand for alternative targeting methods such as contextual advertising, the tactics of some verification technologies are extending beyond their original – and legitimate – purpose.” 

Reeves is calling for a unified stand against these bad actors, who are “packing unseen extra tags into authorized in-header wrappers, or running user agents (bots) to crawl open published domains” to collect data.



This amounts to theft of publishers’ intellectual property in a way that also affects advertisers and agencies, Reeves writes.  

Moreover, "Some verification providers indicate that publisher IP is only collected at the buyer’s request, essentially attributing blame toward the advertisers themselves," he continues.

AOP has been collaborating with the Trustworthy Accountability Group, which has released an updated of its Brand Safety Certification. 

“Effective from 1st January 2023, revised wording specifically differentiates between legitimate and illegitimate data use” Reeves states.  

He adds, “By removing previous grey areas, it gives publishers improved scope to ensure tools are being deployed for their declared purpose, rather than running unsanctioned IP collection.”

Meanwhile, Reeves cautions advertisers that “buyers face significant data validity concerns. There are no guarantees that data used to verify media and serve contextual ads to specific audience segments is licensed, or accurate. Buyers need to ask themselves some tough questions around whether the data fuellng their ad campaigns is of sufficient quality, integrity, and legitimacy.”


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