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In an open letter to advertisers and publishers, Sovrn, Rubicon Project, OpenX, PubMatic, SpotX, and Telaria, pledged to uphold a set of Marketplace Principles that promote clarity and trust. These Principles will serve as a starting point for TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group) compliance and accountability certifications that publishers, buyers, and their representatives can rely upon when making programmatic advertising decisions.

Sovrn is committed to transparency, efficiency, and maintaining a fair programmatic marketplace. We believe that these Principles will make our industry better for all participants, and today, along with our industry colleagues, we’re proud to solidify those commitments.

We will follow a similar process to when Sovrn played a leadership role in the development of industry-wide Anti-Fraud Principles. The next phase of developing a measurement and certification process, will involve broad feedback and collaboration from all participants of the marketplace. Alongside brands, agencies, DSPs, and publishers, TAG will develop a standardized code of conduct, based on the Principles below, that will further the trust, confidence, and growth of programmatic advertising.

We hope that all ad exchanges will join us in adopting the Principles. Joining forces, pledging to uphold best practices, and agreeing to ethical trading will help secure a more open and robust future for digital advertising.

The open letter—signed by the CEOs of six major exchanges—outlines three core market Principles: Efficiency, Transparency, and Fair-market. We are proud to be a part of this consortium, and we’re committed to doing our part to ensure that programmatic has a bright and sustainable future.

1. Efficiency:  Efficiency reduces transaction costs by eliminating waste and fraud.

  • Total Quality Assurance
    • 100% of ad creatives scanned for malware and other quality issues
    • 100% of all domains and apps reviewed for brand safety, ad count, refresh rates, and audience quality
    • 100% of ad requests scanned and filtered in real time for invalid traffic
    • Fully certified by TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group), including validation by an independent 3rd party
  • Standardized Formats
    • All advertisements compliant with the Better Ads Standards developed by the Coalition for Better Ads. For more information, see www.betterads.org.
  • Elimination of Infrastructure Waste
    • For each unique ad request from a publisher for a specific ad format, auction type, or Deal ID, an exchange will send a maximum of one unique bid request to the DSP

2. Transparency: Transparency establishes clear business practices necessary to maintain trust among participants in the supply chain.

  • Fee Transparency
    • No hidden fees of any kind. One clear fee assessed per auction, with fee arrangements made explicit to the party being charged
  • Fully Auditable Supply Chain
    • Auditability of supply source, requests, winning bids, impressions, and clicks through every step in the supply chain
  • Transparent Change Notification
    • Any changes or modifications to marketplace design that may alter performance for buyers are clearly communicated in advance of going live within a reasonable and agreed upon timeframe

3. Fair-Market: Fair-market principles establish clear and unambiguous ground rules that balance the objectives of all marketplace participants.  

  • Clear Auction Rules
    • All bid requests will specify the auction type (e.g., whether the auction is 1st or 2nd price)
  • No Undisclosed Business Arrangements
    • No undisclosed business arrangements (such as kickbacks or rebates) that could unnaturally influence spend away from fair market values and principles
  • No Biased Auction Mechanics
    • Actions such as non-transparent bid-caching or proprietary container preferencing that could undermine the integrity of the fair auction are forbidden

Principles for a Better Programmatic Marketplace: An Open Letter to Advertisers and Publishers

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