IAB Tech Lab prepares digital media industry for ‘watershed moment’

AT IAB Tech Lab’s Transcend event in New York, CEO Anthony Katsur and others laid out their vision to navigate privacy, clamp down on fraud and grow CTV.



“We are experiencing, simultaneously, many watershed moments in our industry’s history,” said IAB Tech Lab CEO Anthony Katsur. “It’s unparalleled in the approximately quarter-century of the digital media industry. Our mission remains privacy and addressability, balancing consumer demand for privacy with the power of the addressable web.”


The digital transformation in the media industry has placed unparalleled pressure on all the links in the complex digital ad supply chain. At IAB Tech Lab’s Transcend event, held this week in New York, Katsur and others addressed representatives of many of these adtech links, imploring them to collaborate, help develop and adopt standards that will lift consumer experience as well as advertiser spend.


Privacy and identity. In his keynote, Katsur pressed hard for open technical standards, especially around the sensitive issues of privacy and identity.


“Open standards and collaboration is what the Tech Lab is all about and where we need to partner as an industry,” he said. “What I’ve seen and often heard is that some folks in the industry are competing on consumer privacy. Don’t compete on a technical framework supporting and enforcing consumer privacy. Privacy is a fundamental human right.”


He added, “Don’t compete on closed technology supporting identity. Let’s have an open interoperable ID standard where different identity solutions can work together.”


In part as a response to the unpredictable and complicated rollout of state privacy regulations, IAB Tech Lab has opened up its Global Privacy Platform (GPP) for public comment.


Clean room standards from the IAB Tech Lab are also slated for the fall.


Open measurement standards lift all boats. A windfall of revenue is headed toward the entire digital media industry if only they can cement cross-media measurement standards, Katsur explained.


“Open technical standards for measurement will ease the flow of ad spend across the digital landscape,” he said. “If we give advertisers and their agency partners things that are standardized, widely accepted and adopted, that drives spend. A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s compete on scale, let’s compete on intellectual property and algorithms, ethically-sourced data, media formats, your insights, customer service, that’s where we compete. But as an industry, we need to come together and collaborate on open technical standards that support our industry.”


Open Measurement SKD for CTV. To support impression and viewability measurement, IAB Tech Lab announced an expansion of Open Measurement (OM) SKD, available for CTV in 3Q.


Currently, OM SKD is available for iOS, Android and web browsers. Once it opens to CTV platforms, users will have cross-screen video measurement for video across all environments.


CTV-specific signals included in the expansion will aim at indicating whether the TV is on or off when an ad is to run, whether someone is out of the room and simply left their TV on, as well as last user activity in the CTV app.


Fraud. This spring, IAB Tech Lab opened the ads.txt version 1.1 specification to public comment. Ads.txt was originally launched in 2017 and aims at verifying and validating ad destinations in programmatic bidding.


The Tech Lab’s Transparency Center UI has also been granted open access, via a sponsorship by programmatic ad exchange network OpenX.


“The Transparency Center is a centralized data hub for critical data in our ecosystem with open access for all,” said Katsur.


Why we care. The digital ad ecosphere will sink or swim on its ability, collectively, to support consumer privacy, deliver relevant non-repetitive ads and root out fraud. These high stakes make the IAB Tech Lab an organization to follow closely as the landscape continues to face regulatory and fraudulent disruption.


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About The Author










Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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