Posted April 5, 2011 4:46 pm by with 2 comments

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After many months of talk about a set of self-policing rules for digital marketers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has finally launched their Ad Network & Exchange Quality Assurance Certification program.

The new IAB guidelines is a 35-page document that covers such topics as Acquiring Inventory, an Online Media Rating System, Data Disclosure and methods of handling customer complaints. Ad networks who agree to follow a published set of guidelines will receive what they refer to as “the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for digital marketing.”

For those of you born in the later half of the century, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval was awarded to products that were tested and approved by the popular homemaking magazine. It started in the early 1900’s and was a highly recognized symbol of trust through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. If a product had that seal, then the consumer knew it was safe, reliable and a good buy.

The IAB is hoping that consumers will feel the same way about their new Quality Assurance Certification seal. More than that, they hope the threat of not getting approved will be enough to make errant advertisers change their evil ways.

In a video presentation, David Moore, founder of 24/7 Real Media says;

[He expects the seal] to eliminate a vast percentage of the people that are not playing the game the way it should be played.”

At the end of the video, Moore thanks those advertisers who are compliant, then points directly at the camera and says,

“for those that aren’t, we’re going to get you.”

There’s a laugh after that and maybe he meant, ‘we’re going to convince you that being compliant is a good thing,’ but it sounds more like he’s going to arrange an accident or delivery of a horse’s head.

I’d like to think that they’re doing all of this because they believe in doing right by the public, but the cynic in me says it’s more about keeping the government from imposing regulations of their own. As far as this being a seal of approval that consumers can trust, I don’t see it. The folks in the presentation video admit that the only way this will work is if consumers refuse to deal with companies that aren’t certified. That’s not going to happen. Most people aren’t going to check the ad delivery service on their favorite website to see if they’ve been approved before typing their email into an form.

I’m not saying these guidelines aren’t a good thing. I just think it’s a moot point, because the government is going to step in with language and rules of their own sooner than later.

Would you stop using a website that didn’t carry the IAB Seal of Approval?

  • Is it the consumers or the advertisers who will ultimately prove the success of this story? Would advertisers want to see government regulation?

  • Michael, good question. Cynthia, thanks a lot for this article!