If the ad industry is serious about transparency, let’s open-source our SDKs

Year after year, a lack of transparency in how ad traffic is sourced, sold and measured is cited by advertisers as a source of frustration and a barrier to entry in working with various providers. But despite progress on the protection and privacy of data through laws like GDPR and COPPA, the overall picture regarding ad-marketing transparency has changed very little.

In part, this is due to the staggering complexity of how programmatic and other advertising technologies work. With automated processes managing billions of impressions every day, there is no universal solution to making things more simple and clear. So the struggle for the industry is not necessarily a lack of intent around transparency, but rather how to deliver it.

Frustratingly, evidence shows that the way data is collected and used by some industry players has played a large part in reducing people’s trust in online advertising. This is not a problem that was created overnight. There is a long history and growing sense of consumer frustration with the way their data is being used, analyzed and monetized and a similar frustration by advertisers with the transparency and legitimacy of ad clicks for which they are asked to pay.

There are continuing efforts by organizations like the IAB and TAG to create policies for better transparency such as ads.txt. But without hard and fast laws, the responsibility lies with individual companies.

One relatively simple yet largely spurned practice that would engender transparency and trust for the benefit of all parties (brands, consumers and ad/marketing providers) would be for the industry to come together and have all parties open their SDKs.

Why open-sourcing benefits advertisers, publishers and the ad industry

Open-source software is code that anyone is free to use, analyze, alter and improve.

Auditing the code and adjusting the SDKs

Amsterdam and Helsinki launch algorithm registries to bring transparency to public deployments of AI

Amsterdam and Helsinki today launched AI registries to detail how each city government uses algorithms to deliver services, some of the first major cities in the world to do so. An AI Register for each city was introduced in beta today as part of the Next Generation Internet Policy Summit, organized in part by the European Commission and the city of Amsterdam. The Amsterdam registry currently features a handful of algorithms, but it will be extended to include all algorithms following the collection of feedback at the virtual conference to lay out a European vision of the future of the internet, according to a city official.

Each algorithm cited in the registry lists datasets used to train a model, a description of how an algorithm is used, how humans utilize the prediction, and how algorithms were assessed for potential bias or risks. The registry also provides citizens a way to give feedback on algorithms their local government uses and the name, city department, and contact information for the person responsible for the responsible deployment of a particular algorithm. A complete algorithmic registry can empower citizens and give them a way to evaluate, examine, or question governments’ applications of AI.

In a previous development in the U.S., New York City created an automated decision systems task force in 2017 to document and assess city use of algorithms. At the time it was the first city in the U.S. to do so. However, following the release of a report least year, commissioners on the task force complained about a lack of transparency and inability to access information about algorithms used by city government agencies.

A 2019 McKinsey Global AI Readiness Index report ranks Holland and Finland among some of the most prepared nations in the EU most prepared to adopt applications