IAB Aims To Streamline Online Media Buying, Ad Serving
Other projects unveiled at the IAB's Ad Operations Summit in New York include a system for resolving ad-impression discrepancies early in a campaign, a best practices guide for managing the online advertising workflow and a new standard for Web video advertising.
"It is time to begin the critical work of adopting these standards and practices across the digital ecosystem and I encourage all stakeholders in the industry to take the necessary steps toward implementation so we can accelerate our trajectory of growth as an industry," said Jeremy Fain, vice president of the IAB.
Fain explained to conference-goers that the measures reflect the organization's "multi-front strategy" in the "War on Discrepancies" it launched two years ago to combat the widespread inefficiency and manual processes endemic to interactive media buying and selling.
A 2006 review by the American Association of Advertising Agencies found that online was the medium least capable of trading electronically, and the one generating the highest discrepancy rates for agencies and advertisers.
The IAB's E-Business Standards initiative seeks to tackle those issues by developing an XML-based electronic data interchange that would eliminate redundant data entry and business negotiations now conducted via fax, e-mail, spreadsheets and PDF documents.
Requests for proposals, proposals and insertion orders will be the first types of ad transactions to be covered by the new standards. The system is eventually expected to extend to other workflow steps like invoices and revisions to RFPs and proposals as well. For now, the IAB essentially wants to keep it simple enough to encourage wide adoption of the standards.
The E-business standards will be integrated into companies' order management, ad-serving and billing software and undergo beta-testing through next year with partners including Donovan Data Systems, Turner Broadcasting, DoubleClick, Atlas, CBS Interactive and Yahoo. The IAB is now also accepting other volunteers for the beta test.
Cliff Rosen--CTO of Solbright, which provides back-end technology to publishers--emphasized that both sides of online ad transactions have to adopt the standards for the system to work. "Strategically, we need to bring to market respective versions of products that support the specifications at the same time," he said during a panel on the E-business effort. "It does no good to have it on one side and not the other."
Separately, the IAB provided details on a system being tested to allow publishers and agencies to spot discrepancies in counting ad impressions in real-time. It involves publishers inserting unique signatures--specifically, a string of 17 numbers and letters--into third-party ad tags to verify when an ad is served.
"From the beginning, the (IAB) Ad Ops Council knew that automating impression feeds between publishers and third-party ad servers was the key to discrepancy detection and resolution," said Zack Rogers, vice president for revenue operations at CBS Interactive, one of the companies leading testing of the process along with Atlas.
Instead of waiting until the invoice stage to reconcile impression counts, the impression exchange system will allow differences to be resolved as they crop up during a campaign. The system is expected to be available for wider testing by early next year.
On the video front, the IAB announced finalizing its Digital Video Ad Serving Template, designed to standardize communication between video players and servers.
Publishers who use the standard will be able to plug into multiple third-party digital video ad servers and networks without additional development, allowing them to sell inventory that might otherwise go unsold.
The IAB also released a best practices guide to the online media buying process that combines prior guidelines issued that cover topics such as how to reduce discrepancies, errors in setting up campaigns and billing cycles between publishers and advertisers. Other best practices guides released cover ad load performance and rich media ads.