Why the IAB Is Creating a ‘Nutritional Label for Data’

New standard aims to significantly improve segment quality

The trade body has been compiling the taxonomy for 2 years.
Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Getty Images

With concerns over data quality on the rise among marketers, the IAB Tech Lab rolled out dual data transparency initiatives last month in an effort to introduce a “nutrition label for data.”

The offering includes a data transparency standard and an affiliated compliance program that together outline the “minimum disclosure and transparency standards” for companies that collect, store and offer data for marketing purposes.

It’s the most comprehensive overhaul of the sector’s standardization in more than a decade. Participants claim it will significantly improve data segment quality, including its origin, recency and segmentation criteria.

Companies agreeing to take part in the program will go through an annual audit to confirm their self-reported claims are in line with the standards outlined by the trade body.

The first batch of companies is set to be audited in the coming weeks, and those that meet the required standards and systems processes will receive an IAB Tech Lab compliance seal.

“Data transparency is a table-stakes requirement to ensure responsible and effective use of audience data—and companies that provide consistent access to detailed information about their data will attract more business,” said Dennis Buchheim, evp and gm, IAB Tech Lab, in a statement.

Kevin Flood, CEO of Powerlinks and co-chair of the IAB’s Data Transparency and Taxonomy Councils, said the launch is the culmination of two years of work. Its benefits include better assuring marketers that data segments in one data management platform will be largely comparable to those of market rivals. For instance, a marketer looking for audience segments in Oracle’s DMP Bluekai can be assured its definition matches that of a rival provided they both carry the IAB Tech Lab’s seal of approval.

“Companies will also have to provide information such as where the information came from, whether or not it’s deterministic or probabilistic, how it was modeled or whether or not it is look-alike-modeled,” Flood said.

Other testing requirements include providing data buyers with visibility on how data has been onboarded and whether or not it includes matching survey data to cookie data.

Companies including 3W.relevanC, Dstillery, Epsilon, Hearst Magazines, LiveRamp, Meredith, Neustar, Oracle Data Cloud and Pandora were key architects of the program and will work to adopt the standard and associated compliance program.

The compliance program will be available to the broader market after the completion of a pilot with these companies.

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