TRUST.ID: The Initiative for a Transparent and Better Advertising World

TRUST.ID: The Initiative for a Transparent and Better Advertising World

1. Transparency in the value chain: a global market imperative for some countries, a legal obligation in France

The digital advertising chain includes a long list of intermediaries whose practices and transaction models can be seen as a complex system, and whose internal workings are hidden and not readily understood. This “black box” of digital marketing is why advertisers and publishers all over the world are desperately looking for more transparency.

It is true that when a transaction occurs in the programmatic ecosystem, neither advertisers nor publishers can fully track where the campaign is actually distributed.  

In France, the Sapin Law, which aims to prevent the corruption that historically existed within media agencies, came into force for digital advertising in 2018 (Sapin Law 2). This law requires players in the digital ad chain to provide full transparency for a better economic order. 

“Business grows where corruption recedes. There is a correlation between the index of corruption perception in a country and the level of investment. This law project will have a virtuous macroeconomic effect” 

Michel Sapin, March 30th 2016, Paris Bercy

At Smart, transparency has always been a foundational part of our platform and we have always shared log-level data with our customers and partners. We fully understand the need and we believe it is critical to the sustainability of the ecosystem.

2. But bringing full transparency to the value chain means tech development and, as with GDPR, a general commitment across the entire value chain.

The Programmatic advertising value chain involves several players including, at a minimum, advertisers, agencies, DSPs, SSPs, publishers. It means that everyone needs to speak the same language to be able to share the right information, at the right time, to each of the participants in the transaction.  

To achieve this goal, a consortium is an ideal solution to organize, align and set the right guidelines for each company that needs to be involved.

3. In France, the Trust.ID initiative has emerged to put into motion the principles of the Sapin law within the digital advertising ecosystem.

Advertisers and Publishers want greater transparency and tracking for their programmatic buying and selling in OpenRTB. is a key which enables both to identify and track a campaign throughout its lifecycle. The goal is to keep a campaign following, to give more transparency and bring the links in the programmatic value chain closer during the reporting operations.

The objectives: 

  1. For the publisher, be able to track and get info about the campaigns (the brand, the product, etc.)
  2. For the buyers, be able to follow a campaign, and to have the opportunity to retrieve data and compare it to a publishers’ at any time, regardless of the DSPs and SSPs used.

4. Genuine specification: the unique scancode of the campaign

With Trust.ID a unique key is constructed for each campaign. The same identifier (Trust ID) is then constituted by multiple elements, including the advertiser identifier and references of the object brand of the campaign, its product, and the reference of the purchase. 

These include:

Also included in the Trust ID is the Global Location Number (GLN) protocol, an international business identification code that is standardized by the GS1 organization. The GLN facilitates the identification of the various advertisers involved in a commercial transaction.

To complete the specification, extensions of all the actors involved in the campaign are added.

Genuine specification:


  • Advertiser ID: GLN (global location number) which is an existing international ID used to identify a company (advertiser).
  • Advertiser brand, Advertiser product code and Customer Product: Estimates are defined at the advertiser discretion

5. How does it work and who is involved?

The Network is a secure distributed network deployed on Blockchain where providers can record and have access to certified ID attestations about their customers.

6. What are the overall plan for implementation and the POC timeline?

IAB France’s goal is to get as many players as possible to implement The plan is off to a great start, three ad tech companies — Smart, Appnexus and The Trade Desk — are already compliant.

Publishers such as Prisma, 366, Le Figaro, Au Féminin, and Boursorama have also implemented it and buyers such as Publicis, Havas, GroupM, Tradelab are also on board.

Prototypes are currently being tested, with the goal of displaying the traceability of each campaign, a key factor for all buyers and publishers in the programmatic ecosystem. 

Feedback is positive, and those involved will continue to promote the project and recruit more actors to participate.

7. A French initiative is a good thing, but is there a broader objective?

The goal of the project definitely extends beyond France. The IAB Tech Lab is actively involved in discussions in various regions, with the goal of evangelizing the ecosystem as a whole and expanding the project worldwide. 

For example, Germany, which already has built the BVDW code of conduct for programmatic advertising, is already in advanced discussions. 

At Smart, transparency is the most important pillar. We believe in the Trust.ID and are investing a lot of time and resources into it. As implementation at a local level is fairly easy,  international companies participating in the project, and Smart particularly, will be strong drivers. We are committed to leading the charge to turn this initiative into a global market standard. This standard is imperative for the value chain; bringing clarity across all players in our ecosystem is a necessity.

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