IAB Initiative Try to Grease the Operational Wheels

By Steve Smith

In an effort to accelerate online ad spending growth and ease the continued pain and complexity of a digital media buy, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is launching five major streamlining initiatives. The E-Business Interactive Standards, for one, will help automate business order transfers between agencies and media companies. A beta release of an XML-based solution is underway with testers. The Interactive Advertising Workflow Best Practices paper hopes to minimize reporting discrepancies and campaign set-up errors. The digital video Ad Serving Template (VAST) is designed to standardize the ways that video ad servers communicate with players. The IAB thinks this will let publishers increase video ad yield with easier remnant inventory sales. The Ad Load Performance Best Practices document outlines standard practices for loading campaigns more efficiently. And the Best Practices for Rich Media Ads in Asynchronous Ad Environments addresses issues throughout the supply chain of serving rich media into dynamic environments.

The IAB made these announcements at last week’s Ad Operations Summit, hosted by the organization. During the Summit, the IAB also revealed beta testing of technology that would help both agencies and publishers detect discrepancies in ad impression counts in real time. The model requires that publishers insert unique alphanumeric signatures into third party ad tags to confirm when an ad has been served.

IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg claims these initiatives will “revolutionize our industry” by improving efficiencies for agencies and publishers. In order for the efforts to work, however, both agency and publishing sides will need to adopt the best practices and technologies in concert. One of the odd ironies of digital advertising, which promotes itself as the “most accountable medium,” is its ongoing problems with automated delivery and accurate counting of ad impressions. The American Association of Advertising Agencies found in 2006 that Web-based media delivered the highest discrepancy rates for advertisers.