As the digital advertising landscape evolves, so must the rules governing it. Responding to industry changes such as an increase in contextual targeting, the Media Rating Council (MRC) announced proposed updates to its existing ad verification guidelines Tuesday.
The changes — developed with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) — provide more granular detail to the IAB’s existing Ad Verification Guidelines, which were issued in 2012.
UGC (user-generated content) that appears next to paid ads and branded content has long been a thorn in the side of advertisers who have been calling for advertising platforms to improve brand safety for programmatic ads. And due to new data privacy rules, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an increasing number of companies have been using contextual targeting in lieu of third-party data. In February, an Integral Ad Science (IAS) survey indicated that nearly half of industry leaders (48.9 percent) believe the MRC standards are not stringent enough.
The new provisions “establish rules for brand safety and context classification-related measurement and reporting that specifically consider discrete pieces of content for decision-making purposes, rather than including considerations that only extend to the domain, site, or page levels,” according to an MRC release announcing the news.
MRC issued new guidance on a variety of issues including mobile-specific brand safety, the concept of “adjacency” to ads, the balance of machine learning versus human intervention when making context and brand safety determinations, monetization controls, metadata and more.
The updates also create a process for brands to mark a set of categories “never appropriate” through the establishment of a “brand safety floor.” 4A’s Advertiser Protection Bureau is developing a framework to support this.
David Gunzerath, MRC’s senior vice president and associate director, said, “Brand safety issues are of paramount concern to marketers in today’s digital advertising world.”
“These updates are critical to allow for stronger brand safety protection in the context of some of today’s most heavily used digital environments, including mobile in-application platforms and social media, where user-generated content can co-exist directly alongside an advertiser’s message,” Gunzerath said.
The changes are now subject to a 30-day public comment period.