Why Rubicon Project joined the TAG initiative to clean up the digital advertising marketplace

A clean digital advertising marketplace is essential for performance, brand protection, and consumer safety.  The confidence of buyers and sellers is also paramount in a well functioning marketplace.

Bad actors have exploited the technologies that drive innovation in digital advertising by pushing robot generated traffic through the systems.  It’s an incredibly costly problem: this year, non-human traffic will account for $6.3 billion in losses, according to a recent study by digital advertising security firm White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers.

Detecting and blocking as much non-human traffic (NHT) as possible is essential for protecting the integrity of the marketplace. Rubicon Project has already implemented an aggressive and comprehensive plan for blocking illegitimate traffic in our own marketplace as well as pushing low quality inventory out of the platform.

But no single company can solve this problem in isolation; we’re stronger working together.  We can take a cue from the functioning of biological immune systems.  These systems work by creating layers of defenses with coordinated mechanisms and system-wide ‘memory’.  By sharing data in an automated fashion between companies with the same goals, we too can create an adaptive ecosystem that will respond quickly.

To further this idea, we’ve joined a number of leading companies in this space, including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, to pilot the Trustworthy Accountability Group, or TAG, with the goal of fighting criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain through knowledge and resource sharing.  Our first initiative was developing the the Fraud Threat List, through which companies share web domains that are sources of fraudulent traffic.

Our newest initiative addresses illegitimate ad traffic that originates from data centers. We’ll use various data sets and industry intelligence to identify the IP addresses of data centers participating in NHT and reject impressions originating from these sources.

These efforts, when combined with adding NHT signaling into the OpenRTB 2.2 spec, will enable automated sharing of data critical to defending against NHT. We’d encourage any interested parties to get involved with TAG and help us add friction to the efforts of the bad actors.