IAB Begins Addressing E-mail Deliverability

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has issued a set of guidelines for e-mail marketers to identify and resolve deliverability issues.

The report, issued by the IAB’s Email Committee, attempts to help marketers identify and address variables that impact deliverability, according to Jayne Dow, director of membership and committees at the IAB.

“Our goal with this effort, as with our other committees, is to provide clarity and address the barriers in the marketplace,” Dow told ClickZ. “We wanted to begin to define what deliverability is and help marketers and agencies improve their deliverability rates.”

The document defines deliverability as “the ability of an email marketer to consistently delivery [sic] email to recipient’s inbox with full HTML of [sic] Text functionality as indicated by the recipient in his/her preferences.” It does not provide a formula for a measurement standard that should be used to identify a delivered message, as the IAB has done with other metrics.

“At this point, it’s about creating a common vernacular so everyone is on the same page,” Dow said. “The real challenge is creating an apples-to-apples comparison, and this is the first step in giving agencies and marketers a tool to do that.”

Defining a measurement standard for deliverability and offering a standard formula for everyone to use is an important next step, according to Josh Baer, a member of the IAB’s Email Committee who was very involved with developing the document. Baer is the former CEO of Skylist and now CTO of Datran Media, which acquired Skylist in June.

“This document provides a good starting point to help marketers understand what deliverability is all about, why it matters to them, and what they can do about it,” Baer said. “We hint at [the importance of defining measurement standards] within the document. Deliverability is certainly something that could use some more clarification and transparency,” Baer said.

The IAB has working groups in place that are tasked with defining measurement standards for clicks, and rich media measurement; the organization released its broadband measurement guidelines earlier this year.

The “Marketer & Agency Guide to E-mail Deliverability” is available for download from the IAB’s site. It identifies the main causes of deliverability issues, including popular filtering mechanisms ISPs have in place. It also puts forth best practices a sender should follow in order to determine if a deliverability problem exists, including common-sense approaches like setting benchmarks and measuring program performance against those benchmarks, while getting feedback from e-mail blacklist and reputation providers.

The IAB’s Email Committee is made up of members from more than 30 companies involved in e-mail marketing, including senders, marketers and agencies, and e-mail service providers. In the spring, the committee published a guide to authentication, reputation and accreditation. That document clarified what methods and technologies were in use by all major ISPs and receivers.

The work of the Email Committee is part of a larger reinvigoration of the IAB’s various committees which began earlier this year, said Sheryl Draizen, the IAB’s SVP and general manager. Besides the various measurement standards groups currently at work, the IAB has committees looking at some areas of emerging media, she said.

“We’re starting to focus on a lot more than just online advertising,” Draizen told ClickZ. “Our goal is to leverage all interactive advertising vehicles to help marketers meet their objectives.”

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