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AiThority Interview with Anthony Katsur, Chief Executive Officer at IAB Tech Lab

Anthony Kastsur, Chief Executive Officer at IAB Tech Lab

Hi Anthony, please tell us a little bit about your role and functions at IAB Tech Lab.

I am the Chief Executive Officer of IAB Tech Lab, the global technical standard-setting body for digital advertising worldwide. With over twenty-five years of executive leadership and technical expertise in distributed systems and advertising technology, I work with the Tech Lab Board of Directors to define Tech Lab’s annual strategic product roadmap. This roadmap governs the focus of IAB Tech Lab’s working groups, technical standards and frameworks, and open standard initiatives supporting the industry. Tech Lab stewards and advances core digital advertising protocols like Open RTB, VAST, and technical frameworks such as the Global Privacy Platform (GPP), and works closely with other IABs worldwide, such as IAB Europe, on things like the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF).

The Tech Lab spun out of the IAB nine years ago. It maintains its own governance, bylaws, and Board of Directors. As an independent trade organization, our global remit is to steward open technical specifications supporting the digital advertising ecosystem. These standards create interoperability across the diverse constituents that comprise the digital advertising supply chain, support critical areas of consumer privacy balanced against addressability, implement cross-channel measurement technical standards and advance the fight against fraud in digital advertising, amongst several other key initiatives. IAB Tech Lab has over 1000 member companies across the globe. A complete list can be found here.

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How has the adtech industry evolved in the last 2 years around the pandemic and technology advancements?

The pandemic accelerated existing audience shifts from linear to Connected TV and e-commerce marketing. With this acceleration, advertisers have become more outcome-focused across their television environments to ensure they get the best results possible. As a result, IAB Tech Lab emphasized the development of technical enhancements to the RTB protocol to better support CTV buying, given the incredible rise in streaming.

Additionally, in November of last year, we announced our multi-year advanced TV roadmap to set technical standards to bring universal addressability to all TV environments, including broadcast, cable, and satellite. As a part of this initiative, Tech lab is developing a video watermark framework based on the A/335 open video watermark standard – critical to achieving standardization across the myriad channels and devices consumers use to watch TV. It will enable the industry to attain universal reconciliation, audience interoperability, improve measurement, and combat CTV fraud while supporting an impression-based television market resulting in greater efficiency in a converging TV advertising landscape.

Finally, Project Rearc — the rearchitecting of digital marketing to balance privacy, personalization, and safety — remains our top priority. Ongoing government regulations across Europe and newly introduced state laws across the United States, combined with the continued deprecation of cookies and evolution of cookieless environments such as CTV, remain the catalyst. Tech Lab believes that our privacy compliance frameworks and privacy-by-design addressability solutions are critical to sustaining a free and open Internet subsidized by advertising.

Could you highlight the importance of privacy and data compliance in digital advertising?

Consumer trust is the lifeblood of digital media and brand loyalty. Our industry has proliferated, with innovation outpacing regulation, but that is now changing. At Tech Lab, we put consumer privacy protection first. There is a proliferation of new privacy regulations around the world with an impact on the way businesses operate and potential fines for non-compliance: from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU to the latest developments in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) being amended into the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) to new laws burgeoning in other US states such as Utah, Virginia, Connecticut and Colorado and countries such as Brazil.

This expansion of new privacy regulations worldwide impacts business operations and introduces potential fines for non-compliance. IAB Tech Lab will continue its consumer privacy-related work in 2023 by expanding on the Global Privacy Platform, a comprehensive and secure consent signaling framework across multiple jurisdictions providing global controls around consumer consent and compliance with local privacy laws.

We are updating the Data Subject Rights Signaling Framework, allowing consumers to access, delete, and modify their data across the digital advertising supply chain.

We will release the Accountability Platform, a technical audit framework designed to provide transparency on using personal data for addressability for regulatory audit and compliance. The Accountability Platform is an essential development in compliance frameworks in the ability to create a normalized data exhaust around privacy compliance across the digital advertising supply chain. This is a critical use case for government regulators, privacy advocates, and internal audits.

IAB Tech Lab will also release a list of best practices and guidance for privacy-by-design use of other technical standards.

We realize our solutions are rapidly evolving, but we seek ongoing progress on the path to perfection to ensure legal compliance balanced against the need for an ad-supported Internet.

Lastly, browsers and big tech are now competing on privacy features and introducing changes to third-party cookies and mobile IDs that impact targeting, personalization, measurement, attribution, and frequency management. Advertisers and consumers spend millions every year on data products and services without sufficient safeguards around transparency and quality of data. IAB Tech Lab is constantly developing standards, specifications, and guidelines and leading working groups to address this challenge, mainly focused on our work to build Privacy Enhancing Technologies within the advertising industry.

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How deeply has programmatic advertising impacted the Connected TV ecosystem? Your take on the future of programmatic advertising 

The core tenets of programmatic advertising are relatively new to Connected TV (CTV). As streaming video continues to mature as a medium for advertising, the CTV market has only begun to leverage programmatic ad technology, but we expect this to proliferate. Programmatic CTV opens new opportunities for expanding reach into homes across all screens and devices. Legacy linear television has needed more functionality and insight that is the norm across digital environments. Now, with CTV and technological advances and standards improvements, the industry has seen increasing parity in capabilities between CTV and linear television. However, some of the critical challenges in CTV lie in audience interoperability, measurement, and fraud. To address these challenges, IAB Tech Lab announced the IAB Tech Lab Programmatic Guide for CTV, which summarizes the best practices for using the most recent ad technologies to achieve the best results in CTV advertising.

The biggest challenge facing the Connected TV ecosystem is bigger than the ecosystem itself. The challenge is the convergence of advertiser demands and use cases across the entire television industry. As CTV has given advertisers a taste of what is possible in addressability, precision targeting, and impression-based buying, they’re demanding the same out of linear television, which led to our Advanced TV initiative. Tech Lab sees a world where advertisers can operate across a consistent signaling framework in the television industry to support measurement, audience interoperability, reconciliation, and audit across all television environments.

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How do you see AI and machine learning capabilities mitigate issues regarding consumer privacy, addressability and privacy enhancing technologies (PETs), advanced TV, ad supply chain, and cross-media measurement?

Machine learning and AI as two very different disciplines, with the former being a subset of the latter. Machine learning has been part of the digital advertising industry for the past two decades since the early days of basic ad serving leading up to the most complex programmatic transactions.

There are potential future roles for AI in ad operations automation, creative and content creation automation, and data security through federated learning to better protect consumer privacy in training future AI decision engines without touching the data. To be clear, we are in the infancy of AI in proper use across all industries. Machine learning will remain the dominant data science discipline in digital advertising for the foreseeable future.

The AI Use Cases and Best Practices for Marketing guide, which can be downloaded at, will help executives separate AI hype from reality, identify the keys to success, and build future-ready brands, agencies, and ad tech organizations. The IAB AI Standards Working Group is also helping define the groundwork and best practices the industry needs to ensure privacy, measurement, and addressability.

Thank you, Anthony! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

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Anthony Katsur is a media technology veteran with more than twenty-five years of executive leadership and technical experience at innovative technology companies in the digital media industry.

Most recently, Anthony was SVP, Strategy, Operations and Corporate Development at Nexstar Media Group, Inc., the largest local broadcaster in the United States. Anthony was responsible for overseeing strategy, technology platforms and corporate development across Nexstar’s portfolio of digital assets.

IAB Tech Lab Logo

The IAB Technology Laboratory (IAB Tech Lab) is a non-profit research and development consortium that produces and provides standards, software, tools, and services to drive growth and efficiency in the global digital media ecosystem.

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