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GDPR and IAB Tech Lab: Cooperation on Standards that Benefit the Industry

By Anissa Connor

GDPR enforcement date has arrived, and along with it a plethora of compliance requirements for the global digital advertising ecosystem.  The applicability of GDPR across our industry has presented an enormous opportunity for collaboration, and IAB Tech Lab has been engaging with industry stakeholders to develop important standards and software. Ongoing industry cooperation will be necessary for companies to be compliant, and for consumers to have more insight and control over how their personal data is used and by whom. Here’s how IAB Tech Lab has played a role, and how you may join us to influence these critical efforts.  

One of the bigger challenges has been how to empower consumers with the ability to set privacy preferences, and have those preferences effectively propagated and honored throughout the ecosystem. IAB Tech Lab partnered with IAB Europe to bring together a diverse set of industry members to collectively define standards and build solutions focused on GDPR compliance. A key output was the IAB Europe Transparency and Consent Framework that standardizes how transparency can be provided to users, their consent captured, stored, and propagated throughout the digital ad supply chain. Both IAB Europe and IAB Tech Lab have remained committed to informing the wider industry about the Framework and soliciting feedback through the provision of resources, regular working group sessions, events, and webinars.

As part of its role, IAB Tech Lab actively engaged technical leaders from across the industry to participate weekly in its GDPR Technical Working Group. The group’s mission is to share information on GDPR/ePrivacy and foster an environment in which specifications and supporting technologies are developed by members and within Tech Lab to facilitate legal compliance and consumer and publisher controls. In addition to the technical specifications of the Framework, outputs have included an open source reference implementation that organizations are using to build consent management platforms (CMPs, as defined by the Framework) that support both web and in-app environments; future CMP developments are to be discussed by Tech Lab working groups, which are open to all members. Most recently, the group has been focused on evolving new elements of the Framework to accommodate additional market requests. This has led to the release of additional specifications (currently open for public comment until June 1) including Pubvendors.json and Mobile In-App support for the Framework.

IAB Tech Lab also released in collaboration with its members, the OpenRTB GDPR Advisory (available here), which specifies how to pass user consent via the OpenRTB protocol. This enables digital advertising companies to share user consent information in a real-time bidding transaction. The OpenRTB GDPR Advisory is compatible with OpenRTB version 2.1 to 2.5 and also details how to pass user consent in the upcoming release of the OpenRTB 3.0 specification.

When members showed interest in development of a neutral consent management platform, DigiTrust (now part of Tech Lab) stepped up to foster an environment for their work as well. The DigiTrust CMP Development Working Group is a collaborative forum for members that share the mutual goal of co-developing a neutral, open-source consent management platform that ties consent to the DigiTrust ID and namespace. The group’s members have released the first version of the tool and have begun distributing to clients while discussing future options and opportunities to build additional capabilities and features. The working group is open to IAB Tech Lab members globally that want to influence the direction of the CMP and participate in the co-development effort in return for distribution rights.

The strength of IAB Tech Lab lies not only in its own resources, but in its ability to bring together members globally to cooperate around shared interests and requirements. We endeavor to continue working closely with IAB Europe, other European IAB organizations, and our combined member base and partners, to facilitate collaboration to build neutral standards, software, and services to support regulatory compliance and industry growth. You can directly influence this effort or stay abreast of recent developments and discussions by joining the IAB Tech Lab Working Groups.


Anissa Connor, Product Management Consultant, IAB Tech Lab & DigiTrust

Anissa leads the DigiTrust product initiatives at IAB Tech Lab. She brings several years of product management experience in digital advertising at Rubicon Project largely focussing on building products that facilitate integrations with ad servers, app developers and publishers as well as actionable insight and automation initiatives. Anissa has a strong background leading Yield Management and Client Services teams at Rubicon Project and prior to moving into Product Management. Anissa is based in London, United Kingdom.