Results tagged “Ad Technology” from IABlog


So Why Aren’t You Supporting SafeFrame?


Last year, IAB issued an industry-wide call to replace all iFrames used in digital advertising with SafeFrames. We did so, fully understanding the enormity of the work that would be required of publishers to re-tag an estimated 60% of the Internet—not a trivial task. SafeFrame is a new ad serving technology standard developed to enhance in-vivo communication between digital ads and the publisher pages where those ads are displayed, all while maintaining strict security controls.  As we approach the one year anniversary of SafeFrame’s release (March 19th) I think it’s fair to state that, while industry adoption is chugging along, it could be better. SafeFrame_Link_new.jpg

One notable early adopter of SafeFrame is Yahoo. Today a majority of Yahoo’s display advertising inventory is served in SafeFrames (that’s billions of impressions every day!) - and Yahoo is actively pushing towards a 100% deployment goal. To be fair to those still in the process of implementing SafeFrame, Yahoo co-led the industry initiative, along with Microsoft and IAB, to make SafeFrame an advertising standard. Nevertheless, to call Yahoo’s contribution to SafeFrame notable is really an understatement.

Since its release last year, a working group at IAB has been focused on tearing down barriers to SafeFrame adoption. The most cited of which has been the need for support by rich media vendors—an understandable barrier to those who comprehend the technical underpinnings of the digital supply chain. We realized early on that we were in a chicken-and-egg conundrum with respect to SafeFrame adoption—without dedicated support from rich media vendors, who package ad creative for trafficking across a variety of publisher sites, neither advertisers nor publishers would be particularly incented to adopt SafeFrame.

Yahoo stepped up to help the industry address the SafeFrame adoption challenge. Yahoo worked closely with top rich media vendors to get SafeFrame off the sidelines and into production environments globally. As a result of Yahoo’s leadership and efforts, 23 rich media vendors now support SafeFrame (see list of vendors.)

With this significant barrier removed, it’s time for those who have been on the sidelines to take action. And with Google’s update to DFP due to support SafeFrame in the first half of 2014, there should be no doubt that this new technology standard is here to stay.

Finally, what most people don’t know about SafeFrame: it’s not just about viewable impressions. Sure, SafeFrame provides publishers, marketers and third-party ad verification services a simple, transparent, standards-based and cost-free API for determining an ad’s viewability state. And with all the deserved attention 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense) has brought to viewable this past year, it’s no wonder that folks have honed in on this key feature of SafeFrame. So, while SafeFrame helps to solve for viewability measurement, it can do so much more.  

Think of SafeFrame as an extensible technology platform that can be used to solve for many issues confronting our digital supply chain. To name a few, SafeFrame already supports programmatic sale of expanding rich media, sharing of metadata, enhanced consumer security and privacy controls, enhanced publisher security and the prevention of cookie bombing. With more SafeFrame features currently in the development pipeline, we see SafeFrame as a base standard that will be extended in ways we have yet to conceive. Simply stated, SafeFrame is the new container tag for digital advertising: it solves many of the digital supply chain issues we face today as digital advertisers and publishers, and is extensible to solve tomorrow’s problems too.

To learn more about why your company should be supporting SafeFrame, we’ve made it simple, with easy to understand educational materials for the marketplace, including an educational video, a feature comparison chart of ad trafficking methods, and an extensive FAQ

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On Tuesday, January 28th, the Wall Street Journal posted an article focused on the release of an IAB paper “Privacy and Tracking in a Post-Cookie World.” The story on WSJ.com originally contained three errors related to fundamental aspects of the IAB’s membership, technical ramifications of described technology and the nature of the document discussing current technological alternatives to the cookie. We appreciate the Journal’s willingness to make those fixes resulting in a decidedly more accurate representation of the IAB and the digital advertising industry. However, I would still like to address a few instances of language selection that could be easily misinterpreted by an average reader.

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First, I would like to explain what a cookie is and how it works, since the description in the Wall Street Journal wasn’t on the mark.

The IAB’s Wiki calls it “a string of text from a web server to a user’s browser that the browser is expected to send back to the web server in subsequent interactions.” Yes, the cookie is also the means by which tracking and preference management happens today in digital advertising, but “code” is another word for software that implies active functionality. As anyone familiar with web or internet technology knows, a cookie is just a marker like a security badge (the analogy given in our whitepaper) or a supermarket customer loyalty card.

Second, within the article, there is an implication that client-generated state management (device IDs) could consolidate online tracking in the hands of specific vendors.

In fact those vendors would only control the underlying mechanism that creates the IDs and not the nature of the way those IDs are used by the industry. This is equivalent to saying that the phone company has control over your supermarket loyalty program data because in that case the ID is your phone number. In fact, within this particular solution class, we have seen two very privacy-centric implementations by Apple and Google in their respective mobile operating systems.

The third potential misinterpretation comes from the statement that device IDs solve the problem of cross device tracking.

Since client-generated state is created within a specific operating environment (such as a device operating system or a browser) it does not enable cross-device tracking. In fact, no current implementations of client-generated state allow automatic industry-wide cross-browser or cross-device tracking. This can and should only ever be possible at the bequest of the user.

Lastly, the cloud solution class described in the document is meant to be a connector between different state management technologies, not a warehouse of personal data, as asserted in the article. 

In fact, the cloud technology envisioned in the whitepaper could become the technology that enables a user to synchronize their advertising preferences across devices and domains. 

In fairness to the journalist, I recognize that this is rather technical for a general business audience. But, we at the IAB feel it is important to accurately represent technology and prevent the perpetuation of misunderstanding for the purpose of easy readability.

About the Author

Steve-Sullivan-headshot.pngSteve Sullivan 



Steve Sullivan is VP of Advertising Technology at the IAB, and on Twitter at @SteveSullivan32.

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When I was learning to drive, my instructor told me that anyone could be a great driver if they were in the only car on the road. It’s all the other cars that make it hard. A similar dynamic has happened in the ad technology landscape. When the supply chain was just networks and exchanges, it was easy to be a pro at delivering digital ads. Yet, in the past few years, this ecosystem has become congested with all sorts of players. The resulting complexity has made it more challenging than ever to make business decisions. It’s become hard to be a good driver in the digital landscape.

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For buyers and sellers, it’s become harder to know if you’re doing the right thing. You have more tools to optimize your stake than ever before, but this abundance of opportunities for improvement has created an uncomfortable level of uncertainty. How do you know you’ve built the right stack? Are you sure all of your providers will work together efficiently? Will they integrate with your established systems? If you’re a buyer, are you sure that your providers’ data segmentations are aligned? Do you know where your ad is going to run and that it’s brand safe? If you’re a seller, is your proprietary data adequately protected and, at the same time, well leveraged? Is your inventory being properly valued? Do either of you feel confident you made the best possible deal? I doubt it.

Four years ago, when we launched the IAB Networks & Exchanges Marketplace, networks and exchanges were the primary intermediaries between advertiser and publisher. An agency would go to a network, buy space across specific publishers, target particular demographics, and run ads across those websites. Today a transaction regularly incorporates DSPs, SSPs, retargeters, data aggregators, and more. The primary relationship is no longer between the agency and publisher or even between the agency, the network-exchange and the publisher. It is now likely that there are dozens of players in the mix.

In addition, industry-wide issues like consumer privacy protections and the upcoming tectonic shift of the viewable impression are real and changing the way all parties do business. The guiding light of providing engaging, breakthrough consumer experiences can easily become hidden behind all of these pressing matters. We can’t afford for that to happen.

This is why the IAB Networks & Exchanges Marketplace has evolved to become the IAB Ad Technology Marketplace. On June 21, 2012, participants from across the supply chain will converge at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York City to address the impact of technology on the industry. On stage, industry leaders will break down case studies and explain all of the partnerships that operate between brand and publisher, describing how the wheels turn. Speakers will provide insights into the future of programmatic buying for the burgeoning sectors of video and mobile, will demystify the phenomenon of private exchanges, and will delve into the enduring issue of attribution. Need-to-know best practices for big data usage and control as well as consumer protections will be explored. Bringing all of these topics to the forefront and having an open discussion about these advancements will propel us toward more clarity and shared understanding. Whether you’re a buyer, seller, or a technology provider, it will help make even your boldest business-building decisions safer and more assured.

Buying and selling is the bedrock of our industry; it is the responsibility of the IAB to protect interactive advertising’s effectiveness while nurturing and responding to its development. The reframing of the IAB Ad Technology Marketplace is just one of our efforts to do just that. I hope you’ll join us, and I wish you all safe driving.

About the Author

Patrick Dolan

Patrick Dolan

Patrick Dolan is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Mr. Dolan is responsible for finance, operation, costs, compliance, and risk management. In addition, he works closely with the rest of the executive management team to supervise strategy and revenue optimization. He can be reached on Twitter at @patrickdolan.