Data Responsibility – Re-Imagining “the Architecture” at Tech Lab Innovation Day

Last week, the IAB Tech Lab held an important summit in San Francisco where top thought leaders and innovators from the digital advertising ecosystem gathered to discuss the current state of affairs and our path moving forward. It was a full house pulsating with energy around the urgent need for the industry to innovate in the face of a perfect storm

In his opening remarks, Dennis Buchheim, EVP and GM of IAB Tech Lab outlined the “new normal” driven by increasing consumer distrust. This lack of trust is being fueled by publicized data breaches, election scandals and experiences with “creepy ads”, global sweeping legislative and policy changes around privacy and competition, and the foundational changes in technology including redundant and inefficient ID systems, poor consumer privacy controls and user experiences and the browser vs. ad tech arms race.

The importance of identifiers has driven proprietary IDs and competition, as open ecosystems have invested heavily to develop solutions to offer clients addressability and targeting as well as measurement and attribution. Meanwhile the “walled gardens” have continued to accumulate market share through deeper consumer engagement and value exchange at scale.

In the interest of market development, the IAB continues to deliver on education, research, best practice and guidelines as well as policy, while the Tech Lab’s focus is on the technical standards to support product development as the underpinning of a functioning, secure and scalable. These outputs include standardized protocols and specifications, software and tools, compliance programs and supporting education.

The following are some of the critical IAB Tech Lab initiatives and products categorized by themes:

Identity, Data & Consumer Privacy

  • DigiTrust ID
  • OTT/FA
  • Identity Validation
  • Data Label
  • Audience Taxonomy
  • Transparency & Consent Framework
  • CCPA Solution
  • PrivacyChain


Brand Safety & Ad Fraud

  • txt/app-ads.txt
  • json
  • SupplyChain object
  • cert
  • Content Taxonomy
  • Ad Product Taxonomy
  • TAG engagement


Ad Experience & Measurement

  • VAST
  • SIMID (VPAID vNext)
  • New Ad Portfolio
  • Dynamic Content Ads
  • SafeFrames
  • Open Measurement
  • Podcast Measurement


Programmatic Effectiveness

  • SupplyChain Object
  • json
  • OpenRTB
  • OpenDirect
  • Ad Management API
  • Blockchain


An important discussion around Browsers concluded in the following six “Bets” moving forward:

  1. Status Quo is not realistic
  2. Browsers will not simply provide an IFA
  3. Mobile device IDs are next to go
  4. True first-party relationships will continue to be respected… but not third-party relationships
  5. Browsers will not accept “a handful of cookies”
  6. Consumers and first parties will have full control over data


These realities led to deep dive discussion into the recent IAB Tech Lab / NAI proposal for a standardized ID token. The Proposal for Enhanced Accountability outlines the following:

  • A global, neutral, single device (not cross-device) standard with simple to understand consumer privacy settings, consistent with any applicable privacy law.
  • Controlled distribution & use of a revocable ID token with privacy preferences directly coupled and access to the tokens would be directly tied to compliance. A self-regulating mechanism that would allow revocation as the ultimate penalty for non-compliance.
  • A framework for industry accountability and governance through technology mechanisms developed to surface non-compliance.


The Proposal was developed by a broad group of stakeholders across the IAB and NAI memberships representing a significant international industry voice.  The key to successful refinement and implementation is dependant on collaboration and participation in further developing the details and guidelines. Input, constructive feedback and suggestions are required to drive this forward. IAB Canada will be advocating this proposal to the DAAC as we look to modernize and enhance the existing Ad Choices privacy tool.

Other topics covered in detail at the event included a detailed review of the TCF 2.0 framework which outlined tremendous progress in addressing detractor, industry and DPA concerns around blind spots as well as the interoperability of the framework with other global privacy regulations like the CCPA, PIPEDA and other markets looking to tighten legislation.

There was a great presentation around emerging themes involving ethics and codes of conduct and competition.  This included those issues IAB Canada has discussed with its members also covering some content form within the IAB Canada Data Fundamentals Course such as dynamic pricing and engineering lock-ins.

We look forward to unpacking further insights from this important discussion in our Council and Committee meetings.