A third-party tag, also known as an ad placement tag, is a snippet of JavaScript code placed on a website or web page to display ads. A third-party advertising platform or network provides the code, allowing the platform to serve ads to the website or web page. When a user visits the website or web page, the code is executed, and the ads are displayed to the user.

Third-party tags are commonly used to monetize websites and to allow website owners to earn revenue from their content. They are also used by advertisers to target specific audiences and to track the performance of their ads.

A single ad tag can be placed on multiple ad inventory spaces on different websites and apps. Demand-side platforms (DSP) and ad networks can also use ad tags in a programmatic environment for ad serving.

After implementation, the advertiser no longer has to go directly to each publisher to change the creative. Any creative change on the ad server will reflect on the single ad tag placed in every publisher who runs the ads.

There are different types of third-party tags, including display ads, video ads, and native ads. Ad placement tags are typically placed in the HTML code of a website or web page and can be managed through an ad server or ad network.

Generally, an ad tag enables advertisers to:

  • Make creative changes and optimization from the ad server instead of going directly to each publisher.
  • Do creative A/B & multivariate testing.
  • Track ad viewability – as trackers are placed within the ad tag.
  • Track ad engagement.

What are the risks associated with third-party tags and ad placement tags?

Third-party tags and ad placement tags can potentially introduce security risks to a website or web page. This is because a third party provides the code, and the website owner has no control over the code or the ads that are served through the tag.

There is a risk that the code could contain malicious elements, such as malware or tracking software, that could compromise the website’s security or its users’ privacy. There is also a risk that the third party could use the tag to serve inappropriate or offensive ads or display ads that are irrelevant to the website or its audience.

Have hackers exploited third-party tags in cyberattacks?

Yes. One common method is to insert malicious code into a third-party tag in order to compromise the security of a website or web page. This can be done by modifying an existing third-party tag or by creating a new tag and inserting it into a website or web page.

For example, a hacker might insert a tag that contains malware or tracking software into a website or web page. When a user visits the site, the code is executed, and the malware or tracking software is installed on the user’s device. This can allow the hacker to access the user’s device or track the user’s online activities.

To mitigate this risk, it is important for website owners to carefully review and vet the third-party advertising platforms and networks that they work with. It is also a good idea to use ad servers or ad networks that provide controls for managing and filtering ads served through third-party tags. Additionally, website owners should keep their website software and security measures up to date in order to protect against potential attacks.