And there's no consistent mechanism by which to grade all of the players in the market and no visibility as to which players have good practices in place and which do not, Sullivan says. For example, one network might be using ad verification technologies to bolster security while another uses nothing at all. That led IAB president Randall Rothenburg, in a recent opinion column, to declare that "the digital advertising industry must stop having unprotected sex."
"If all of the networks in a trustworthy supply chain operated [to the same standard], we wouldn't have the problem at scale that we have today," Sullivan says. "In an opaque marketplace the inventory for a company that doesn't follow best practices sits side-by-side with a company that does — and they're treated equally."
The IAB's five-year plan, which includes quality assurance guidelines and the establishment of a "Traffic of Good Intent" task force, isn't fully developed yet, and many details have yet to emerge.
Nonetheless Spiezle says, he's encouraged, although he'd like to see the IAB open up the process to all affected parties. "An effective solution needs to include a multi-stakeholder approach including the advertising community, ad networks, publishers and the security community. We look forward to working with the IAB and others towards this goal."