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Online ad industry fires back against $6.3 billion fraud issue

TAG “Fraud Threat List” Identifies Known Sources of Bot Traffic; Pilot Program Underway with Broader Deployment Expected in Q3 2015

NEW YORK, NY (May 11, 2015) — The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to improve the digital ecosystem, today announced plans to create, maintain and share the TAG Fraud Threat List, a database of domains that have been identified as known sources of fraudulent bot traffic for digital ads. The program was unveiled on stage at the IAB Advertising Technology Marketplace Conference in New York by Mike Zaneis, interim CEO of TAG, and Jim Norton, Global Head of Media Sales at AOL.

TAG will publish the technical proposal for the Fraud Threat List program at and will solicit comments from advertising industry stakeholders for 30 days before finalizing the program. The initial pilot phase of the program is already underway, with several major advertising platforms participating. Broader deployment of the final program is expected in the third quarter of this year.

“Information is power, and this program allows advertising companies to identify the domains that are driving fraudulent traffic and take power back from the criminals who are undermining our industry,” said TAG interim CEO Mike Zaneis. “By gathering and sharing known sources of fraudulent impressions across the digital advertising ecosystem, TAG will give companies the information they need to find and remove non-human traffic from their inventory.”

The TAG Fraud Threat List will be compiled using information from participating companies with specific insight on domains that are driving significant fraudulent ad traffic to the ad industry. TAG will make the list available to advertising networks, publishers and technology providers, so each can take appropriate steps to deliver legitimate inventory to marketers and agencies.

The initial research, design and testing of the program has been led through a collaboration of TAG’s Anti-Fraud Working Group and leading digital advertising companies including AOL, BrightRoll (a division of Yahoo), and SpotXchange, which are participating in the program’s pilot program.

“Each individual company in our industry may only have a limited view of the sources of ad fraud they are seeing,” said Josh Cariveau, VP, Global Supply Operations, SpotXchange. “When the major players all share their information, you get a 360-view of the most problematic domains. This initiative will help keep fraudulent inventory from shifting between one SSP/exchange and another to escape detection. Ultimately, this collaboration is a big first step to minimizing fraud."

TAG is an initiative created by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) to attack ad-supported piracy, advertising fraud, malware, and other critical challenges in the digital communications supply chain. The Fraud Threat List is TAG’s second major initiative this year to address those issues. In February, TAG launched the Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy, a program that will help advertisers and agencies avoid brand damage from unwanted sites by using TAG-validated providers of anti-piracy services.

About the Trustworthy Accountability Group

TAG was created to spur industry-wide improvement at an unprecedented scale, focusing on four core areas: eliminating fraudulent traffic, combating malware, fighting ad-supported Internet piracy to promote brand integrity, and promoting brand safety through greater transparency. For more information on TAG, please visit


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Evan Schuman, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
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