Keeping Tabs on the Interactive Advertising Bureau

The organization responsible for setting measurement and standardization guidelines in our industry, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), has been busy lately creating new guidelines, compliance and education programs, and business practice standards to help move us forward. Because there’s so much new information to absorb, here’s an overview of major recent announcements:

4A’s/IAB Reinvention Task Force

At its annual meeting last month, the IAB joined forces with the American Association of Advertising Agencies to form a task force to create voluntary business practices standards that, if adopted by both agencies and publishers, should significantly reduce the cost and complexity of both the planning and buying of interactive advertising. Agreements reached include:

  • Standardization of basic business documents, including requests for proposals (RFPs), advertising proposals, and insertion orders, and invoices.
  • The design of a solution for exchanging impression data between publishers and third-party ad servers in order to detect and fix discrepancies in near real-time.
  • Revising and improving the “Standard Terms and Conditions” document created in 2002 to reflect current operations and marketplace.

New Click Measurement Guidelines

The IAB also released for public comment its click measurement guidelines. The guideline will establish parameters for the accurate buying, selling, and measuring of CPC (define) advertising, including:

  • The detailed definition of a “click” and outline standard methodologies by which clicks should be measured and counted, including the identification of invalid and/or fraudulent clicks.
  • Defining standard terms that will help streamline the buying and selling of click-based media.
  • Increase transparency and consistency in click measurements for media companies, ad-serving organizations, advertisers, and third-party click auditors.

Finalized Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines

After releasing its audience reach measurement guidelines in December for public comment, the IAB subsequently issued its final version. These guidelines define how reach is measured in the online world and specify procedures for measurement that equates uniques in the interactive world with reach in other media. This allows planners to assess competitive reach among measured sites and interactive versus other media. Key takeaways include:

  • Key industry metrics are defined, including unique users, unique cookies, unique browsers, visits, and time spent.
  • A framework is established for all measurement providers to have their methodologies audited, providing greater certainty for the industry.
  • Greater accuracy and reliability of all forms of online audience measurement, whether based on server data, online panels, or user registration.

Digital Video Guidance

With the growing popularity of the digital video ad format, the IAB has taken steps to document useful definitions and best practices in its digital video guidance section, such as:

  • Digital video
  • Digital video in-stream ad metrics
  • Digital video ad format guidelines
  • Digital video ad measurement
  • Digital video ad serving template
  • Digital video player-ad interface definition

Compliance Seal Program

Cooperating interactive publishers who meet the IAB’s compliance standards in the following areas receive a seal of approval, which in turn should give the media planner greater confidence in including them in an online media plan:

  • Rich media creative guidelines
  • Universal ad package
  • Digital video ad format
  • Digital video ad serving template (VAST)
  • Digital video player-ad interface definitions (VPAID)

Professional Development Programs

Aimed at both digital “natives and immigrants,” the IAB has developed professional development programs and seminars designed to speed the adoption of IAB’s best practices and provide publishing, marketing, and agency professionals the knowledge they need to employ interactive advertising effectively. An online media planner might be interested in two of the offerings:

  • IAB certificate in interactive advertising training. After undergoing a week’s worth of training and demonstrating understanding and familiarity with the fundamentals of online advertising, media professionals receive a certification.
  • Metrics 101: Understanding and using measurement data. This class teaches the basics of online metrics and measurement, and how this environment differs from traditional broadcast or print media in terms of media planning and buying.

Besides its recent news announcements, the IAB Web site continues to be a valuable resource for anyone involved in online advertising. From the research it conducts (e.g., Bain/IAB Digital Pricing Research, or third-party research (e.g., eMarketer stats), to its free creative specs to all of its standards, guidelines, and best practices documentation to its work on public policy and its newsletters, it’s a must-have in every media planner’s arsenal of resources (in addition to ClickZ, of course!).

Meet Hollis Thomases at Search Engine Strategies New York. She’ll discuss how brands can use social media at the ClickZ track on March 25.

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