IAB Tech Lab Releases Product Taxonomy 2.0

As the industry continues to invest in brand safety and refined contextual advertising solutions, the updated taxonomy delivered by IAB Tech Lab this week could not have come at a better time. Ad Product Taxonomy 2.0 is officially released for public comment and once adopted, will significantly improve the programmatic ecosystem.  

While much attention has shifted to safety in AI, the online advertising industry has for years, known the importance of language and taxonomy as a critical piece of the puzzle. Few solutions exist to help publishers and their users distinguish what ad content is appropriate for their audiences that are as impactful AI systems infused with effective taxonomy.  

The new Ad Product Taxonomy 2.0 provides a significant new level of granularity and shifts the focus from concepts towards products. An example cited by IAB Tech Lab involves the term “alcohol” which was once listed under the Food & Drink category. By focusing on the product itself, publishers are better equipped to discern whether a restaurant review or recipe blog is harmlessly referencing alcohol or whether an actual ad for an alcoholic product has entered into the site.  

Any category of advertising that is potentially deemed inappropriate, banned or undesirable by publishers must first be identified and the most powerful tool is the use of granular and standardized taxonomy. A great example of the power of taxonomy is the work done by IAB Canada ahead of the last federal election. When many publishers and platforms made the decision to block political ads, IAB Canada  delivered a real time list of keywords that  helped the supply chain quickly identify  political ads so that they could take appropriate action. 

For advertisers, the update provides the benefit of control and accuracy of contextual ad placement strategy. When advertisers are equipped with the granularity offered by Ad Product Taxonomy 2.0, they are in a much better position to articulate where they would like to place ads and which areas are to be avoided.   

Moreover, Ad Product Taxonomy 2.0 can play a major role in compliance with legislation or self-regulation. Having the ability to better identify products like alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, CBD, and pharmaceuticals can prevent requesting ads from inventory where they are prohibited. This is a win-win story of efficiency and protections in the ecosystem.  

Next Steps

Any new standards and guidelines take some time to roll-out. To achieve the efficiencies afforded by the new Ad Taxonomy, as a priority we encourage members to engage in conversations with partners on adoption planning. 

  • Talk to demand partners about timeline for support 
    • IAB Canada will facilitate a discussion with the agency and publisher councils 
  • Review the taxonomy to see how it fits with your policies and content
    • We encourage members to review the taxonomy during the period of comment so that we may provide any feedback ahead of finalization. 
  • Add new blocked categories to existing block lists – note APT 2.0 uses unique IDs so multiple blocking taxonomies can run side-by-side 

An overview of the changes can be found here. Once public comment has been completed and Ad Product Taxonomy 2.0 is in production, a full change log will also be released on IAB Tech Lab’s new Taxonomy GitHub Repository.