Adify: Is Your Ad Network IAB Certified?

Vertical ad networks promise to deliver a blend of reach, hyper-targetability and performance, but when it comes to brand metrics, not every network can say that the impression counts are Interactive Advertising Bureau-certified. Adify can--as the ad-serving tech provider announced that it has snagged IAB certification for impression accountability.

The endorsement validates campaign reach measurements across the more than 90 ad networks and media providers that use Adify's BYON (Build Your Own Network) technology, including the Gay Ad Network, Time Warner and Reuters.

With the certification, San Bruno, Calif.-based Adify joins the ranks of DoubleClick, AOL's ADTECH and Microsoft's Atlas as one of the 12 ad-serving tech providers to have completed the IAB's rigorous impression auditing and certification process.

According to Joelle Gropper Kaufman, vice president of marketing for Adify, auditors spent six months assessing the quality and reliability of their ad-serving technology, in addition to reviewing the traffic reporting processes for consistency.

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As of press time, major ad servers like WPP's 24/7 Real Media, Yahoo's Right Media, and ValueClick's Mediaplex have only committed to attaining IAB certification--and many of the smaller ad networks that have emerged are either running on one of those platforms, or their own proprietary tech that isn't yet compliant.

Kaufman said that the certification process was expensive and difficult--which explains why there are still plenty of networks that haven't yet gained compliance. "It's a hassle, because you have to pay for auditors, and you have to change anything they find that isn't quite right." Kaufman said.

IAB-compliance may not be a pressing issue for CPC or CPA advertisers, but according to Kaufman, it's a growing concern for major brands buying display from networks on a CPM basis. "There's more risk involved when advertisers pay regardless of whether the user clicks or acts," Kaufman said. "If you're going to try to sell the branding benefits of your network, then you need to be able to guarantee their placement and the eyeballs."

Soon, ad networks may not have a choice when it comes to IAB-certification, however, as in 2006 a group of advertisers that included BMW, Ford, Visa and Pepsi got together to demand that publishers get IAB-certified by 2008--or else. And Kaufman thinks they'll stick to their guns, possibly even getting their ad agencies to only buy inventory from compliant publishers and networks.

But according to Yolanda Lam, vice president and group media director, digital at MediaVest, IAB certification is a welcome sign--but not yet a deal-breaker. "Our digital buyers are aware that there's an ongoing initiative between the IAB and the digital ad community, but it's not something that we're seeing is a requirement for most of our clients," Lam said. "It is, however, a critical first step in efforts to reduce discrepancies of counts between different systems (global standards)."

And Bill Reynolds, vice president and head of media for IPG's Erwin-Penland, says that certification isn't the main factor that buyers consider when choosing a network.

"If the choice came down to two niche networks that could both deliver the ideal reach, then the benefit of the doubt would certainly go to the one that took the time to go through the scrutiny of certification," Reynolds said. "But publishers of all kinds of media make the mistake of thinking that just having certification will send a flood of orders your way. It may be enough to eliminate you, but it's not necessarily enough to get you included in the buy."

As of press time, Valueclick's Mediaplex was listed as committed--but not yet certified--on the IAB certification page. According to a spokesperson, "Mediaplex has attained certification prior to press time. We have contacted the IAB to update their Web site."

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