Two leading anti-fraud and brand safety organizations Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) have announced an agreement to merge.

TAG and JICWEBS merge to unite brand safety standards

Mike Zaneis will serve as CEO for the combined organization – which will carry the TAG name – while JICWEBS’s Jules Kendrick will take the new role of Managing Director of UK and Europe. The merger will be completed in early September 2020.

JICWEBS and TAG announced a formal partnership in March 2017. Since then, the two organizations have aligned their programs to strengthen standards, avoid duplicative effort, and extend their reach. As part of that initial alignment, JICWEBS merged its anti-fraud efforts into the TAG Certified Against Fraud Program and encouraged its members to adopt the TAG Certified Against Malware and Certified Against Piracy Programs.

“This merger will ensure that companies around the world and across the supply chain can focus their efforts on a single trusted set of self-regulatory standards that address fraud, malware, piracy, and brand protection,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “From Manhattan to Manchester, Madrid to Macao, and Mumbai to Melbourne, every company in digital advertising can comply with TAG’s standards.”

“By bringing TAG and JICWEBS together, we are making it easier for every company in the supply chain to adopt the high standards necessary to protect themselves and their customers across the globe,” said Jules Kendrick, CEO of JICWEBS. “Rather than wading through an acronym soup of regional alternatives with differing standards, costs, and compliance requirements, companies can make sure they comply with one set of industry-wide certifications.”

Going forward, the combined organization will also harmonize the JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) with TAG’s Inventory Quality Guidelines (IQG) Program into a global brand safety certification program.

As part of the merger, the four UK-based trade bodies – the Association for Online Publishing (AOP), the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), and ISBA – the voice of British advertisers – will join TAG’s governing body, the TAG Leadership Council.

In addition to its JICWEBS relationship, TAG has been building global partnerships with other trade organizations for several years. Among those efforts:

• TAG recently announced a partnership with the Chinese Advertising Association (CAA) to promote TAG’s programs to CAA’s 2,000 members in China.

• TAG previously announced a collaboration with GÜR, the Turkish platform for trustworthy digital advertising, as well as direct dialogue with a range of other national and regional industry associations.

The cross-border benefits of TAG programs have been proven through research demonstrating dramatically lower fraud rates in TAG Certified Channels in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the UK.

Industry comment

Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO, 4A’s, said:“While the industry formation of TAG in 2015 focused on the digital supply chain in the U.S., there was a need to address fraud, malware, and piracy at a global level. The merger of TAG with JICWEBS provides an important global standard that will be recognized by the advertising industry around the world. "

Bob Liodice, CEO, Association of National Advertisers, said: “This merger marks a major step in the consolidation of industry standards designed to combat digital fraud and promote brand safety, and it couldn’t come at a better time. We now have an expanded and fortified source the global marketing industry can turn to in its ongoing quest to ensure a safe, transparent and trustworthy media environment for its brand messaging.”

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, Association for Online Publishing, said: “The merger of JICWEBS and TAG provides a significant step forward in the alignment of common standards. The merger will help address the complexities associated with multiple market advertising activities, given the vast inconsistencies between different, indigenous standards - which is important for our member publisher brands who create original content consumed across many regions. This is much needed and an example of how collaboration is critical to upholding and aligning standards, demonstrating how we can not only simplify the process but also ensure the consistent high standards we should expect in our industry. We very much welcome the move.”

Randall Rothenberg, CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau, said: “Bringing together TAG and JICWEBS will support streamlining industry compliance across the globe. This will benefit brands, publishers, and the tech companies by creating more consistency and clarity in the best practices and technical standards they should adopt to improve trust and transparency in advertising.”

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK, said: “Consolidating JICWEBS and TAG into one body reflects our global, interconnected industry and is a significant step towards collectively tackling issues such as brand safety at a global level, making it easier for players in the digital ad supply chain to seamlessly implement standards across regions. This is great news for transparency, accountability and standardisation within digital advertising.”

Belinda Beeftink, Research Director, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said: “The IPA welcomes the merger of JICWEBS and TAG, which will provide companies around the world with one set of standards ensuring that the standards set are of the highest order. We look forward to working with the TAG Leadership Council to promote industry-wide adoption.”

Phil Smith, Director General, ISBA, said: "ISBA is delighted to back the coming together of JICWEBS and TAG to raise the bar for international standards in digital self-regulation. We look forward to working together on the TAG Leadership Council to drive industry-wide adoption."

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