It's An MRAID! IAB Proposes Mobile Rich Media Standards

by , Sep 7, 2011, 2:38 PM
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Some of the most memorable mobile ad campaigns are rich media executions launched within apps. But with multiple vendors working with their own APIs across several platforms, bringing such custom campaigns to scale can be a challenge.

The IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence has opened for comment proposed API standards governing these units. Dubbed MRAID for Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions, the 42-page proposal covers technical aspects of ad delivery, including how local resource are used, error handling and ad unit expansion on a page.

By creating MRAID-compliant ads, an app should be able to use that rich media unit in a predictable way, so that campaign creative will not need to be rewritten for each app or network. The IAB believes that establishing such standards will allow the rich media mobile ad industry to grow more rapidly, while advertisers realize greater scale in their campaigns at lower cost.

MRAID is a standard set of commands that will work in both HTML5 and JavaScript. The IAB says it is taking up the work last year of the Open Rich Media for Mobile Advertising consortium of companies that offered an open source SDK for complying with their initial spec.

"However, in order to gain acceptance by a wide array of industry participants interested in mobile rich media, developing the interface specification within the IAB's standards process is important," the group says at the site.

"Standardizing the disparate creative APIs in the market will help publishers have a consistent set of offerings for advertisers and will allow creative developers the opportunities for scale that a uniform specification provides." Some 27 publishers, networks and ad tech companies formed the IAB MRAID Working Group, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, Crisp, Medialets and Jumptap, and WSJ, Weather Channel and The New York Times.

"All the rich media vendors are going to need to make some changes to become MRAID compliant," says Joe Laszlo, deputy director, IAB Mobile Marketing Center for Excellence. "That said, many of them have been involved in creating the draft spec, and so won't be surprised by anything in MRAID 1.0. It's the IAB's hope that they are already working to put MRAID compliance on their product revision road map." Notably absent from the Working Group is the maker of the well-hyped iAd, Apple itself. Laszlo acknowledges that Apple did not opt into engaging with the IAB or the MRAID design process.

The full document is available for review and comment at the IAB site. The comment period runs until Sept. 30, after which the Working Group will consider suggestions and issue an MRAID 1.0 spec.

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