Results tagged “iab” from IABlog
About the Author
Alexandra Salomon is the Senior Director, International at the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
About the Author
Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives at the IAB focusing on Social Media, B2B, Games, Content Marketing and Native Advertising.
She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst
Just before Valentine’s Day we held an industry town hall style conversation in San Francisco on the romantic topic of mobile and cross-screen audience metrics and measurement.
Before an audience comprised of members of the IAB Mobile and Tablet Committees, and the Research and Ad Ops Councils, a diverse panel of experts shared what their companies are doing around mobile and cross-screen measurement, what buyers want from metrics, and areas where this part of the mobile ecosystem needs to improve.
I want to thank my great group of speakers, including:
- Yvonne Chou, Product Management, Ads, and Monetization, Flipboard
- Anne Frisbie, VP and GM, Global Alliances, InMobi
- Alex Linde, SVP, Monetization, The Weather Company
- Graham Mudd, Director, Advertising Measurement, North America, Facebook
- Steve Yarger, Head of Mobile, Trulia
Particular thanks to the folks at Trulia, who kindly let us use their event space for this conversation.
One topic we discussed was the traditional view of “reach” as an important metric—and the question of whether simply being the biggest was still a valuable differentiator for a network or media company. The answer seemed in general that, yes, scale matters to ad buyers. But raw, undifferentiated, mass-audience scale is not as valuable as it once might have been. So InMobi, for example, tends not to talk about its raw reach number, but rather a smaller number (though still a big number—759 million) that counts only those end users for which it has some user-level targeting capabilities.
And of course where reach goes, so goes frequency, and to some extent duration as well. I wondered (devil’s advocate-style) whether the age of audience buying meant that the good old GRP (reach x frequency) was obsolete. None of the panelists really felt that way—indeed they all felt that there was increasing need for standardization of GRP-type metrics, for digital (including mobile) and then for cross-screen as well. Making Measurement Make Sense deserves great credit for coming as far as it has, but the panelists agreed (and I think most 3MS participants would as well) that they still have a very long way to go. Ad sellers are increasingly hearing demand from agencies to buy based on Nielsen OCR or comScore VCE, and see a role for IAB to help ensure those and any other GRP-style metrics are a sound basis for transactions.
And on the cross-screen frontier, there is a lot of interest, but a lot of concern as well. Vendors helping establish bridges between PC and mobile audiences are great, but some on the panel worry that they are either not transparent enough (or there’s no good way to validate their accuracy) and that on the consumer side there is not enough disclosure yet. Users need to accept and expect what you’re doing with their data, goes the sentiment, and with cross-screen data aggregation, there’s a risk of backlash from not-yet-informed or aware consumers.
Capping this part of the conversation I asked about the future of metrics and Alex from Weather said (half serious half in jest, I think) that we need an industry standard around cross-screen view-through conversions. He’s probably right, but that’s an intimidating project.
Another point of metrics agreement among all five panelists was that clicks still matter too much in mobile. First off, we shouldn’t even be calling them “clicks” or using the acronym “CTR” at all—in mobile the term is “taps.” So even getting marketers talking about “tap rates” would be a minor victory. But the major victory would be moving them from talking about taps to identifying and using better, deeper metrics to judge whether their messages are working.
I’ve been a proponent of trying this for some time,
indeed IAB’s been on the “down with CTRs” message on desktop for ages. But one interesting thing that came up in the
town hall was that specific verticals have metrics they like, that they feel
have proven (at least in terms of conventional wisdom) correlations to business
The two cited were:
Media and entertainment: movie studios look at trailer completion rates, believe a higher completion rate correlates with better box office.
Pharma: pharmaceutical companies look at the number of ad viewers who go three-clicks-deep into the content about a given drug. There’s a belief that people who do that are much more likely to go on to talk to their doctors and possibly get a prescription.
I am intrigued by these “magic metrics”—I’d like to start a collection of them for other verticals. There’s a huge value to simple, relevant, consistently defined metrics, especially if those metrics have an accepted correlation with actual leads, sales, or other valued business results.
Making mobile measurement make sense (which I’ve already heard referred to half-jokingly as “4MS”) is very much on the Mobile Center’s mind this year. This town hall was the first, but certainly not the last, industry conversation we’ll be facilitating, and Metrics and Measurement is going to be big at our upcoming Mobile Marketplace conference on April 7 here in New York. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues, either there or in other venues later in the year.
About the Author
Joe Laszlo is Senior Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.
Since we launched the IAB Certification program nearly two years ago I’ve been Vice President, Training and Development. Now, at the IAB we don’t go out of our way to be cute or creative when we use titles; they are meant to be accurate, expressive, and to-the-point. No Senseis or Shepherds here. As a result no one has ever not understood what my role is at the IAB.
Still, the longer that I’ve had this position, the more the title has seemed inappropriate to me. It’s the word training that bothers me. Training is something that’s done to people (or dogs!) Training sounds passive. It conjures up the image of a student held hostage in a classroom, passively absorbing information. Training is what managers send employees through.
But learning is completely different. Learning is active, not passive. We choose to learn. We all want to learn, all the time, to experience new things. Learning occurs in the classroom, but it also happens on the job, at home, anywhere and everywhere; with others or by oneself. Others might control my training, but I control my learning. Which one is more likely to stick with me?
That’s why we created IAB University (IAB.U), an industry educational hub where everyone across the ecosystem, from every level, can come together to learn from each other. At IAB University you can be on the receiving end of digital advertising education or you can teach your peers. Plus, participants receive IAB Learning Credits good towards IAB Digital Media Sales or IAB Digital Ad Operations recertification programs, if they need them.
The IAB is flush with subject matter experts. Experts abound. Need to learn the latest on programmatic? Interested in how native advertising works? Unclear on what a viewable impression is? If there’s something you need to know about digital advertising, our members have the answers. The IAB has always been a tremendous resource for thought leadership and cutting-edge expertise; that’s truer today than ever as our industry continues its remarkable growth.
We realize more and more people come to the IAB to learn. We are attracting more junior level employees and people relatively new to the industry. Learning comes in all flavors— a webinar, a conference, a panel of experts, a town hall of newbies. Just about every program the IAB offers is a learning experience, and we hope you will take advantage of those learning experiences whether you are seeking recertification or just want to stay abreast of what’s happening out there.
But here’s our hope—that many of you will share your expertise or newly-found research with others in our community. Did your company just release a piece of research? Turn it into a webinar for IAB members. Are you an expert on some new trend? Put together a panel so that IAB members can discuss, at your place or ours. Let’s figure out a way to make learning continuous and collaborative.
We’re already beginning to put together a free program of learning opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about IAB University or want to be part of the IAB University “faculty” to let us know what you want to teach please start here iab.net/iabu.
And with that…
About the Author
Digital Video has become a thriving advertising channel that enables
rich, engaging creative messaging and provides interaction opportunities
with consumers. You may not know about the technical nuts and bolts behind digital video advertising, so to help you, we’ve created a short educational video, “IAB Digital Simplified: Understanding IAB Digital Video Suite”. This video, narrated by Adapt.tv’s Founder and Chief Product Officer, Teg Grenager, breaks down the processes of digital video advertising and illustrates the technical concepts of the IAB Digital Video Suite (V-Suite). Now you can quickly gain baseline knowledge on some of the critical work developed by IAB members to benefit the interactive advertising industry.
As for digital video advertising, it may not have ever scaled without the help of VAST and VPAID, two specs that are part of the V-Suite. In December 2013, 188.2 million Americans watched a staggering 52.4 billion online content videos. This amounted to 35.2 billion video ad views and 13.2 billion minutes spent watching video ads for the month. Additionally in December, 86.9% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.* Recent estimates show U.S. digital video ad spending will nearly double in four years, climbing from $4.14 billion in 2013 to $8.04 billion in 2016.**
Adoption and use of the IAB V-Suite technical specifications have helped in this growth of the digital video marketplace and IAB seeks to encourage further adoption. We know the full specification isn’t easy reading, so we invite you to check out this video and share it with your colleagues and partners. You’ll be empowered to speak about digital video and these specifications.
The IAB and its member companies have worked extensively to create an interoperable environment for video ad delivery across the digital supply chain. IAB Digital Video Committee working groups representing the industry have invested in long-term collaboration to create a suite of protocols that helps reduce operational complexity for video ad delivery. The result is the IAB Digital Video Suite, which includes three specifications: VAST, VPAID and VMAP. Each one plays a different role to enable communication between video ads and video players, and to simulate a TV ad experience with enhanced interaction.
As with many things in our industry, we’re only going to see more development and progress out of Digital Video. In fact, we’ve already seen attempts at integrating these specifications to work with technology involving connected TVs and cable networks. To stay on top of the issues and learn more about what’s happening in Digital Video, get looped into the Digital Video Committee.
*Source: comScore December 2013 US Online Video Rankings
**Source eMarketer March 2013
About the Author
Jessica Anderson is Manager of Advertising Technology at IAB
Email her at [email protected]
Andrew is the CEO and a co-founder of Studio One and co-chair of the IAB Content Marketing Task Force. Previously, Susman was an executive at Time Warner and Young & Rubicam. In addition, he serves on the boards of the Advertising Educational Foundation, and Business for Diplomatic Action. A native of Missouri, he is also a certified sharpshooter and is a major supporter of the ASPCA.
The Digital advertising industry exists in a complex legislative and regulatory environment. Policies in Internet governance, privacy, advertising, taxation, and intellectual property all have significant impacts on the growth and direction of the industry.
And these policies are not being developed in one place. Within the Washington, DC beltway, laws and industry guidance are promulgated by regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission, the judicial system and past precedent set by court cases, and legislation enacted by Congress.
To make this policy landscape even more complex, the digital advertising industry must also be cognizant of local and international laws. As those working in the industry know, digital advertising is borderless in nature and therefore depends upon a base level of legal cohesion among countries and regions. Disruptions stemming from policies in one nation, or U.S. state, are felt globally. Take, for example, two recent anecdotes from Europe.
On October 21, a data privacy bill before the European Parliament passed through committee on its path to becoming law. This draft bill, created in response to the recent revelations about U.S. national security data-tracking practices, directly impacts the digital advertising industry in several ways. For one, the bill calls for explicit consent before a wider variety of processing activities. The bill would also create new barriers to transferring information about EU citizens to the U.S. Perhaps most importantly, the bill proposes a new definition of personally-identifiable information that includes “online identifiers.” The European Parliament will now negotiate with the Council of the EU to reach a compromise agreement.
Contemporaneously, the EU is considering whether or not to allow the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework to continue. This framework allows participating U.S. companies to comply with EU privacy rules through a streamlined self-certification process. Under this framework, Over 4000 companies, and many IAB members, have demonstrated their high level of privacy protection in order to work with European companies and serve European citizens. Although Safe Harbor is focused on addressing commercial privacy practices, the value of the Framework has been questioned in recent months in association with national security concerns.
Were digital advertising practices and technologies static, there would already be a complicated set of rules to follow. But industry practitioners know that digital advertising is never static. Innovations are constantly created that raise new public policy questions. This is evidenced by the FTC’s recent interest in native advertising and the Internet of things.
To help the digital advertising industry identify the policies relevant to them, the IAB has created an online Legislative and Regulatory Tracker. This webpage summarizes draft legislation and regulations that will impact our ecosystem, and categorizes these proposed laws by subject, such as children’s privacy, location privacy, and trade. It also offers IAB’s positions on the draft laws, providing further insight into how IAB is working to promote growth in the interactive marketplace on behalf of its members. Whether you’re a publisher, advertising network, or marketer, we hope you find this service helpful in navigating the complex policy environment.
This tracker will continually be updated and expanded, so check back regularly for up-to-date information on the policies that could affect your business. For more updates on the IAB’s public policy work, visit the IAB public policy website. If you have questions about the tracker or IAB’s other public policy initiatives, please feel free to email me at [email protected].
About the Author
Alex Propes is Senior Manager, Public Policy, at the IAB.
Since releasing the IAB PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report for the first half of 2013 on October 9, 2013, the IAB has seen misconceptions about the report, mostly centered on programmatic. Speculation about why the report does not cover programmatic revenue came from a highly esteemed and particularly smart writer and editor. We’ve seen guesstimates of programmatic’s contribution to overall interactive ad revenue based on the IAB numbers.
Why we do not report programmatic buying revenue
There are two primary reasons for not breaking out programmatic revenue in the IAB PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report:
- The industry has yet to reach a consensus on how to define programmatic
buying, spend and selling. If we cannot define it, how can we collect
credible revenue information? Does anyone really expect that a revenue
bucket or a spend bucket that has not yet been clearly defined is being
accurately tracked by any of the entities we would have to get the information
- Programmatic is a FORM of selling. It is not a format or medium of distribution. Currently and throughout its history, the IAB/PWC report has explored formats and mediums; it’s never looked at selling mechanisms.
Guesstimates of programmatic revenue based on the IAB PwC report are not sound
Based on how the revenue data are collected and how they are reported, it is simply not possible to estimate programmatic ‘s contribution to growth in overall revenue. This would be true even if we had an agreed upon definition of programmatic to use in order to make inferences. That is why we do not engage in speculation about how much programmatic contributes to spend in the official report.
It is PwC that independently collects the data and authors the report on behalf of the industry and the IAB. It is PwC that is charged with maintaining the quality of the data collection and reporting. And it is both PwC and IAB that consistently opt to be rigorous on methods and in reporting.
It would be irresponsible to include guesstimates in the official, published revenue report. It would also be inadequate to release the report without providing context. That is precisely why we host a well- attended webinar with our members and members of the press together to hear the revenue numbers from the report along with context from PwC, the IAB and a guest speaker. This occurs twice a year to coincide with the releases of the half yearly and the annual reports. Contrary to what we’ve heard lately, programmatic has been part of the discussion. The materials are posted to the IAB site and readily available to all.
IAB activity aimed at understanding programmatic buying: what it is and how it impacts the broader marketplace
Revenue reporting aside, the IAB recognizes that programmatic buying and selling are an important part of our ever evolving marketplace. In order to serve our members and the larger ecosystem, it is our responsibility to convene thought leaders, experts and practitioners to clarify and illuminate how market forces are operating and changing.
We have the following key efforts underway in the programmatic arena.
In July, we convened the IAB Publishers Programmatic Task Force, a group of 40 publishers working to identify the issues surrounding programmatic selling and understand which ones can have actionable solutions through consensus.
In September 2013 we released a programmatic terminology piece that explains the four dominant methods of selling programmatically entitled, Digital Simplified: Programmatic and Automation - The Publishers’ Perspective.
On the technical side, the Digital Advertising Automation Task Force is working to standardize, implement, & support adoption of common datasets for IOs, media plans & invoices. The Open RTB & Exchanges Working Group supports the development of OpenRTB specifications.
The IAB regularly holds Town Hall meetings where different ecosystem players convene to discuss and debate some of the bigger challenges we all face. These town halls provide inspiration for many solutions that ultimately make our businesses better. Coming soon is a Town Hall on programmatic selling and buying.
Will the IAB add revenue reporting capabilities?
Yes. We will be trying to supplement revenue reporting so that we capture dynamics and transactional forms that are outside of the purview of the IAB PwC report. We seek the right way to measure programmatic spend and the support from our members to provide this kind of research.
About the Author
Sherrill Mane is SVP, Research, Analytics and Measurement, at the IAB.
The latest annual ranking of U.S. universities by U.S. News & World Report came out on Tuesday, and while I’m personally pleased with how some higher learning institutions performed (Go Tigers!), I’m a bit dismayed that none of the top 10 has much of a reputation for their Digital Marketing or Advertising programs. In fact, only one school in the top 20 offers an undergraduate major with a digital focus.
Why does any of this matter? Because there’s a growing disconnect between the needs of the market and the available resources at universities. Marketing and Advertising— digital marketing, in particular, and digital advertising—are driving the mobile and digital revolutions which have created billions of dollars in equity value and hundreds of thousands of jobs. While academic programs struggle to incorporate current trends into a semester-long course, IAB member companies express exasperation at finding qualified college graduates to fill entry-level positions.
The timing is right for all of this to change. Struggling under mountains of college debt, students (and parents) want assurances that their degrees will lead to careers, not just jobs. Colleges face their own financial crises and as the competition for students increases, every institute of higher education—from community colleges to state universities to liberal arts colleges—will recognize that there are worse academic sins than preparing students for life and work after the classroom.
The IAB Digital University Study
Digital advertising and marketing aren’t the only sectors of the economy that are growing, of course. But they might be the most underrepresented among university programs. IAB recently commissioned a study of current offerings of undergraduate programs in advertising, marketing, and digital media studies at recognized U.S. institutions. Choosing “best” of anything is clearly subjective, and so we chose our criteria carefully. We looked at five requirements for colleges to satisfy in order to make our list:
1. The university is nationally and internationally recognized in various disciplines
2. The university offers undergraduate degrees in advertising, marketing, media studies, or business
3. The advertising program includes an emphasis in interactive advertising, digital media, or at least offers several courses with a focus on interactive and social media advertising
4. The marketing program allows for elective courses outside the business school
5. The university offers courses in digital media design that are available to non-art majors
Location, while not a primary factor, was also taken into consideration. Programs in New York and California received additional attention.
The following programs, in no particular order, show the most promise in addressing the five factors (the U.S. News & World national rankings are listed in parentheses after each university):
- University of Texas at Austin - BA in Advertising with an emphasis in Media Studies (#52)
- New York University - BBA in Marketing or BS in Media, Culture and Communication (#32)
- Syracuse University - BA in Advertising (#62)
- University of California at Berkeley - BA in Media Studies (#20)
- Southern Methodist University - BA in Advertising with Media Emphasis (#60)
The following programs have established and recognized interactive advertising programs but may not meet other requirements.
- Michigan State University - BA in Advertising with an emphasis in Management and Media (#73)
- University of Washington - Master of Communications in Digital Media (#52)
- University of Michigan, Dearborn - BBA in Digital Marketing (#36 Regional Ranking)
There’s a lot here to consider. The digital industry needs more top schools to introduce relevant digital courses and majors. IAB, as an industry leader, need to become actively involved in the programs that are being offered and figure out a way to enhance their reputation.
And here’s why: In order for the digital economy to continue to flourish, the current and next generation of post-secondary students must be prepared for interactive advertising careers. On-the-job training can only go so far and can be much more efficient if new employees have the requisite skills and knowledge before entering the workforce.
IAB is committed to professionalizing the digital advertising workforce of the 21st century, creating accredited credentials that set industry-wide standards of knowledge and expertise. We started in 2012 with the Digital Media Sales Certification program and have certified nearly a thousand sales professionals in little more than a year. Now, this week, we launched the Digital Ad Operations Certification program, the first-ever certification for digital ad ops professionals at ad agencies, digital publishers, trading desks, demand and supply-side platforms, exchanges and brands. We will continue our efforts in 2014, introducing new certification programs wherever the marketplace deems necessary.
But education, training and workforce development need to occur further upstream. Private industry—the digital employers who represent the greatest need for a trained and capable workforce—must make its need for qualified graduates known to colleges and universities, and to partner with these institutions, providing scholarships, endowing chairs, funding programs, and joining faculties. IAB sees a major role for itself in helping to make these partnerships possible. Look for further developments in 2014.
About the Author
Marketers love digital media, plain and simple. The digital platform gives marketers opportunities to create conversations and consumer relationships that heretofore were not possible. Brands are being built and results are being generated due to digital’s expansion within the marketing mix.
But marketers are also frustrated by the lack of “viewability”. In 2012, according to various sources, 1.8 trillion display ads were paid for, but could not be seen. We are close to realizing a material improvement to this fundamental issue: viewability. Yes, the viewable impression is nearly here. The Media Rating Council (MRC) expects to lift its Viewable Impression Advisory by the end of this year, and at that time marketers will eagerly start buying digital media on viewable metrics. Publishers and agencies, we hope you’re ready.
Marketers reportedly waste billions of dollars annually in display ads that are not viewable. ANA’s Board of Directors and the larger marketing community have demanded that viewability become the basis for digital currency and transactions.
In February 2011, when ANA joined with IAB and the 4A’s to start the Making Measurement Make Sense initiative, we recognized a tremendous shortfall in digital spending productivity. We saw a substantial confidence gap in understanding the value of marketing investment in display and video advertising. We were horrified that the media that was “supposed to be the most accountable” was turning out to be the least accountable. With great anticipation, we are now just a few months away from resolving a significant driver of this dilemma.
The foundation of this excitement is the overdue shift from served impressions to viewable impressions. It gives marketers the assurance that consumers get to see the ad that they paid to place. Critically, it opens the opportunity for apples-to-apples cross-platform comparisons that will increase marketer confidence in the development of intelligent and capable multi-screen marketing plans. It provides marketers with the accountability they need to embrace digital more enthusiastically. There’s also a great benefit for publishers, agencies, and others that succeed in making the transformation to viewable, as they will become the preferred partners of these hungry marketers. The upside is enormous for all those that make the shift.
We recognize, however, that the move to viewable is rattling many businesses to their cores. Publishers need to adopt SafeFrame to increase the proportion of their inventory that is measurable for viewability, and to adjust the very constitution of their operations to manage this important currency change.
We understand that the system will be imperfect. Refinement of viewable impression transactions will continue even after the MRC Advisory is lifted. For example, new complexities in discrepancy resolution will need to be explored and resolved
There is no turning back. The marketing community has waited too long and wasted too much money not to make the leap to viewable. We cannot be frozen by fear or perfectionism either. Without forward motion, we will undermine the advancements already established. We will also undercut future enhancements that will make digital media a more appealing brand-building investment for marketers.
The viewable impression will be the foundation of fundamental innovations such as the Digital GRP. Creating a GRP that is comparable to that in other media is crucial for the evolution of cross-platform analytics. Marketer’s inherent challenge to enhance integrated marketing would be dramatically reduced by a “common GRP.” This would facilitate improved decision-making and resolve cornerstone issues such as marketing mix modeling and media budgeting decisions. Combined with the growing use of the common coding power of Ad-ID, marketing measurement for publishers, agencies, and marketers would be turbocharged.
For the digital media industry, the only question is how fast we can implement these historic changes. The MRC is bounding onwards, completing the work needed to lift the advisory and continuing to guide us toward a more accountable media marketplace. For agencies, forward motion means being ready to rely on the clarity provided by these new metrics to advise and act in the best interests of marketers. For publishers, it means adopting SafeFrame now and being ready to satisfy marketer demand for viewable impression transactions by the end of the year.
This is the age of accountability. If you’re ready to meet the demands of the day, you’ll be greatly rewarded. But if you’re not a participant, you’ll run the risk of being left on the sidelines. Let’s do this all together and move the industry decidedly forward.
About the Author
Bob Liodice is President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of National Advertisers
On May 31, Kevin Conroy, the President of Digital and Enterprise Development for Univision Communications, one of the largest premium Hispanic media companies in the United States, wrote a heartfelt plea in Advertising Age titled, “The Third-Party Cookie Divide Is Debilitating the Industry.” Pegged to the controversy aroused by the Mozilla Corporation’s announcement that it intended to block third-party cookies by default, Mr. Conroy correctly noted that “third-party cookies are not all bad or all good.”
“The companies behind these controversial tools are established members of the digital-advertising supply chain that provide an array of services, and their relationships with other industry participants should not be defined or determined with one broad stroke,” he added. “All-or-nothing proclamations and actions on this matter represent a dangerous over-simplification that’s creating conflict and putting the industry at risk. This face-off must be replaced with thoughtful and productive discussion recognizing the subtleties of the marketplace, the individual interests of businesses, and the true north that all parties invested in this discord and its resolution share: the desire to deliver value to consumers that is dependent upon trust, comfort and control over their privacy.”
We have taken Mr. Conroy’s admonitions to heart, not just because he is a member of the IAB’s Board of Directors, but because he is right. Conversation is better than isolation; negotiations trump obstinacy; “win-win” is preferable to “you lose.” So we were heartened when Mozilla executives started reaching out to advertising, media, and ad technology industry companies, professing to want to include them among the stakeholder groups whose opinions matter as Mozilla goes about reconfiguring its Firefox browser, which controls 20 percent of the world’s access to the Internet.
Unfortunately, a review of Mozilla’s latest scheme for blocking third party cookies shows it to be worse than its earlier proposals. While Mozilla executives say they are taking in criticism from multiple stakeholders, the company’s own statements and explanations indicate that Mozilla is making extreme value judgments with extraordinary impact on the digital supply chain, securing for itself a significant gatekeeper position in which it and its handpicked minions will be able to determine which voices gain distribution and which do not on the Internet.
The Cookied Web
Third-party cookies are an essential part of the Internet content supply chain, and date to the earliest days of the commercial Web, in the mid-1990s. Stored inside a user’s Web browser, they help the browser remember the user’s previous activity. While first-party cookies, as Wikipedia notes, “are cookies set with the same domain (or its subdomain) as your browser’s address bar,” third-party cookies “are cookies set with domains different from the one shown on the address bar.”
Although third-party cookies have been controversial mechanisms - their privacy implications, particularly the concern that they could be used to maintain identifiable dossiers of consumers and consumer activities, were subjects of Federal Trade Commission hearings in 1996-1997 - they have been part of the way Internet advertising has been delivered, measured, analyzed, optimized, and compensated for more than 15 years. Were they to be embargoed tomorrow, billions of dollars in Internet advertising and hundreds of thousands of jobs dependent on it would disappear.
On June 19, Mozilla - which is both a nonprofit foundation and a for-profit corporation - announced a new plan for blocking third-party cookies in Internet content distribution. In collaboration with Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, it said it would establish a “Cookie Clearinghouse,” a body that would “develop and maintain an ‘allow list’ and ‘block list’ to help Internet users make privacy choices as they move through the Internet.”
The Cookie Clearinghouse replaced Mozilla’s earlier concept for controlling the use of third-party cookies: a patch to its Firefox browser which essentially would have blocked all third-party cookies except those specifically allowed by the user. After an uproar from Internet advertising and retail organizations, including the IAB, Mozilla put that plan on hold, announcing that it produced too many “false positives” and “false negatives.” Specifically, it would block third-party domains even if they share the same owner and operator as a primary domain - an almost pure act of business interference - and failed to block cookies on sites users went to by accident. Mozilla Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich said “the only credible alternative” to the blunt, poorly designed Firefox patch was “a centralized block-list.”
Centralized solutions may, in fact, be necessary to improve performance, user control, and the safety of the Internet advertising and media supply chain.
We believe the “open source” Internet advertising supply chain, while a foundation for enormous innovation, also introduces vulnerabilities into the advertising and media ecosystem, and we are eager to work with legitimate participants to improve the functioning and safety of this supply chain. IAB already participates in several such centralized solutions. A prominent one is the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising. This program allows consumers to see how they are being tracked online and by which advertising-related companies, and to selectively opt in and opt out of such tracking. In February 2012, Jon Leibowitz, the then-Chair of the FTC, called the DAA program “a significant step forward.” Today, trillions of ad impressions a year carry the DAA’s notification icon; millions of consumers have clicked on it and visited the DAA’s Aboutads.info site; and hundreds of thousands have opted in and out of various forms of targeting via the DAA program.
And just this week, the White House praised another IAB initiative, our Quality Assurance Guidelines, a centralized compliance program that, among other things, will help combat the piracy of intellectual property in digital advertising environments.
So our initial opposition to the new Mozilla announcement was not based on hostility to centralized solutions. It was based on our skepticism about Mozilla’s motives and with its ability to follow through on its commitments.
Mozilla executives say they are not opposed to advertising. Indeed, at the same time the organization is threatening to choke off the ability of Long Tail publishers to monetize their advertising inventory, it is testing the market for a new advertising product of its own - a suspicious confluence of events, to say the least.
But that aside, the company’s civic positioning and public character are heavily freighted with antipathy toward advertising and the commercial Internet. For example, Mozilla is the world’s largest distributor of Adblock Plus, a browser add-on that impedes advertising delivery on the Internet. Adblock Plus boasts nearly 15 million Firefox users, and is the browser’s no. 1 add-on by far, with more than twice as many users as its no. 2 add-on, Video Download Helper.
Like the piracy of music and movies online, ad blocking appears to be a victimless endeavor, but in fact is a possibly illegal activity that deprives a cascading chain of legitimate enterprises of income. In some markets, Adblock Plus is responsible for stopping as much as 50 percent of mainstream publishers’ ads, significantly harming their revenue stream. For small publishers, the effect is devastating. Niero Gonzalez, the proprietor of the gamer site Destructoid.com and a member of the IAB’s Long Tail Alliance, says that half his users are blocking ads. “This means we’re working twice as hard as ever to sustain our company,” he has written.
When asked about this, Mozilla executives give a figurative shrug and say they are merely responding to their users’ interests, and that Firefox add-ons are community contributions, about which Mozilla does not pass moral judgments. But of course, this is, at best, a rationalization, and perhaps wholly disingenuous. Like all organizations, Mozilla makes choices and passes judgments every day, which reflect the organization’s values. Mozilla’s active, prominent promotion of Adblock Plus suggests a value system hostile to advertising and the businesses and people dependent on it. If the organization felt strongly about the economic impact of ad blocking on small Web publishers and retailers, it could curb it - or at least cease aiding and abetting it.
An organization’s values also are represented by those with whom it chooses to associate. Here again, Mozilla’s values reflect an aversion toward advertising and the consumer economy to which it is central. The Cookie Clearinghouse launched by Mozilla with Stanford is led by Aleecia M. McDonald, the Director of Privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. Dr. McDonald co-chaired the Worldwide Web Consortium’s Tracking Protection Working Group, a body that was supposed to join stakeholders from industry, academic institutions, NGOs, and regulators in developing standards for browser-based mechanisms to enable users to opt out of tracking. Dr. McDonald’s leadership of the group was widely perceived as unsuccessful, in no small part because of her Manichaean point of view that pits privacy interests against business interests, and her impatience with alternative perspectives on the W3C Task Force. Last July, for example, she said, “Whatever standard the W3C produces will put a number of third parties out of business, but that is okay because that will be a good day for privacy.” Only since her departure from the W3C has the body managed to struggle closer to a consensus standard.
Dr. McDonald’s insensitivity was on display again last month, when she chose an anti-business extremist for the Advisory Board of her Clearinghouse - Jonathan Mayer, the Stanford graduate student who designed the cookie-blocking patch, and whose intemperate public opposition to the ad industry, consensus-generating processes, and stakeholder negotiations led Mozilla, in a May industry forum, to publicly disavow its connections to him. That Mozilla would subsequently turn to such people to lead a body that will make decisions regarding the life and death of businesses is an indication of the organization’s indifference to the economic stakes involved in its efforts to unilaterally reconfigure the Internet advertising supply chain.
But at least as telling as the presence of anti-business radicals on Mozilla’s “cookie court” is who and what is absent. There are no publishers on it - the people whose livelihoods depend on the sale of digital advertising. There are no executives from ad networks - the companies that are almost solely responsible for helping small publishers earn any income. There are no executives from brand marketers, ad agencies, retailers, e-tailers, or ad technology companies - not a single representative from an ecosystem responsible for creating 5.1 million jobs in and contributing $530 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
In light of this criticism, Mozilla may lean on Stanford to change the composition of its Cookie Clearinghouse, but that alone cannot change the character or complexion of Mozilla or the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, which appear to be those of elitist organizations that hide under the shield of populism to make value judgments about who is worthy of earning a living in the digital age.
The Atomized Individual
We saw this anti-business value system reflected again in the operating details Mozilla has begun to unveil for its Cookie Clearinghouse. These specifics have been doled out sparingly in blog posts and in a sparsely attended discussion Mozilla convened on July 2 at its San Francisco headquarters.
At first blush, Mozilla’s ideology seems inarguable. “We simply believe that when personal data is collected to deliver these [personalized Internet] services, the collection should be done respectfully and with the consent of the consumer,” the company said on its Mozilla Blog on May 10. Its decision to block third-party cookies by default was made “to strike a better balance between personalized ads and the tracking of users across the Web without their consent.”
Seemingly benign, Mozilla’s ideology is weighted down with counter-historical presumptions. The entire marketing-media ecosystem has subsisted on purchase-behavior data and other forms of research being available without individuals’ consent. R.L. Polk & Co. receives automotive ownership data from some 240 sources, including state governments, auto manufacturers, and financing companies, to create profiles of nearly every vehicle on the road and the people driving them. This data has been central both to the health of the auto industry and to improvements in cars, driving, and auto safety over the years.
U.S. Census data, too, is a foundation of U.S. economic development. The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a site full of case studies describing how this most personalized data source of all can be used by businesses that want to “gauge the competition,” “calculate market share,” “locate business markets,” “design sales territories and set sales quotas,” and engage in myriad other activities. Not only is this use of anonymous, personal data central to the American economy - it is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Were such sources of data suddenly to become unavailable - or if they were to shift from default-available to default-closed - whole industries would suffer, and along with them the people they employ and the communities in which they operate.
This is exactly what Mozilla is proposing to do - and what its self-styled libertarian patrons are (paradoxically) urging it to do.
Words like “privacy” and “respect” seem incontestably clear and insistent. Yet they have no single meaning. They are social constructions - and different social constructions have different trade-offs, one of which is the diversity of content, and ideas, on the Internet.
At this moment in the evolution of the Internet, third-party cookies are the technology that makes small publishers economically viable. Their elimination will concentrate ad revenues in a shrinking group of giant media and technology companies. It is incumbent on Mozilla, which claims to defend openness and diversity on the Internet, to reconcile its public values with the diminution in diversity that is bound to occur from its proposed actions.
The Mozillan Ideology
There are four major ideological presumptions underlying Mozilla’s decision to block third-party cookies through its Cookie Clearinghouse:
- It presumes that blocking third-party cookies by default is better than allowing them by default.
- It presumes that an Internet supply chain dependent on a centralized clearinghouse will continue to operate equitably.
- It presumes that human involvement only during counter-challenges to the Clearinghouse’s decisions is reasonable and scalable.
- It presumes that the establishment of a centralized body to determine which third parties should be exempt from this default behavior is consistent with Mozilla’s mission.
All of these presumptions are questionable.
Blocking third-party cookies by default is neither better nor worse than allowing them by default- but it does reflect a value judgment which affirms that the sanctity of the individual, in any way he or she chooses, transcends all other values, including important functions of civil society.
Consider, for example, the role of commerce - the freedom to engage in which was a fundamental spark to the American Revolution. Although it may not be as apparent as when a customer enters a physical store, visiting a web site is a commercial act, during which a value exchange occurs. Consumers receive content, and in exchange are delivered advertising. The value of the delivered ad is currently calculated based on two essential points of data - where the ad is being delivered, and to whom. By blocking third-party cookies by default, Mozilla is turning off the anonymized but behaviorally relevant “who” signal, thereby reducing the value of most ads. The user effectively has been granted a right to engage in a commercial transaction without anyone knowing anything about that transaction, including the other party to the transaction. This social decision carries costs. By reducing the value of advertising, consumers and businesses will shoulder higher prices, in the form of more ads, more intrusively delivered. Or they will pay more for content. Or they will be asked for more explicitly personal information in return for the content.
The same would be true if another source of prevalent, anonymized, personal data - bar codes and retail scanners - was suddenly embargoed. Costs in the retail supply chain would skyrocket, as stores, distributors, and manufacturers struggle to maintain optimal stocks of goods. No one would benefit - margins would decline everywhere, and consumer prices would rise - but the worthiness of the individual, and his freedom from intrusive inspection of his anonymized toothpaste purchases, would be sanctified.
As the internet becomes further entrenched in modern life, assuring sufficient consumer control grows in importance. Yet simply flipping a default preference for all consumers does nothing to empower them. Instead, it degrades the opportunities businesses have for delivering conveniently available high quality content, and it promises to raise various kinds of consumption costs on consumers.
Social costs also factor into the equitability of Mozilla’s proposal for a centralized Cookie Clearinghouse. At this time, Mozilla hasn’t made clear the formats for its proposed “block-list” and “accept-list.” The accept-list is to contain a list of third parties that are exempt from the blanket ban on third-party cookies. This accept-list has two possible implementations of which we are aware:
The first possible implementation introduces a fixed cost to anyone who would want to use third-party cookies for any reason. This cost would have a higher proportional impact on smaller players, thereby increasing the barriers to entry for new competition. Depending on the criteria used to evaluate exceptions, this may block several existing business models - those of advertising networks and data brokers, certainly, but also such functions as web analytics, on-page social sharing buttons, and other widgets.
The second possible implementation introduces significant scaling costs to anyone who would want to use third-party cookies. It will definitely block social widgets, “share” buttons, “like” buttons, and any other popular business model that depends on user interactions with cookies while the user is away from the first-party “proprietor” site. At best, the centralized clearinghouse skews towards the incumbent, reducing the opportunity for small innovators to gain a foothold and compete. At worst, it completely eliminates certain business models.
Another troublesome, complex, and socially costly feature of Mozilla’s Cookie Clearinghouse involves the use of human intervention to determine which cookie-settings are acceptable and which are not. As currently drafted, the clearinghouse proposes an automated handling of most requests through a “challenge” process, and a manual handling of any contested request through a “counter-challenge” process. This is troubling, for it empowers unscrupulous actors to leverage the clearinghouse as a tool for disruption of service and to gain competitive advantages. Specifically, without human oversight, the following situations may occur:
- An attacker can counter-challenge the exception for a legitimate third party, thereby temporarily blocking the ability of that third party to set cookies.
- Multiple attackers can counter-challenge a wide range of legitimate third parties, thereby overloading the staff of the Cookie Clearinghouse, further damaging those legitimate third parties.
- Multiple attackers can file challenges as well as counter-challenges to those same challenges, to further increase the workload of the Cookie Clearinghouse staff.
- An unscrupulous actor can indicate that it is a legitimate third party, thereby gaining the ability to set third party cookies, and can then migrate to a new domain as soon as a counter-challenge is raised. If done in tandem with a persistent attack on the ability of the Cookie Clearinghouse staff to review counter-challenges, this advantage may be longstanding.
The creation of a centralized, automated “toggle” exposes all web sites that depend on third party resources to potential disruption. However, staffing to validate each and every challenge manually is not feasible, either. By attempting to enhance individual isolationism on the Web, Mozilla could instead turn it into a bureaucratic war zone of competing interests.
For years, Mozilla has portrayed itself as one of the good actors on the Wild West of the Web - a digital Jimmy Stewart out to tame the evil-doing Liberty Valance’s of the virtual world, making it safe for the citizenry to raise barns and families and towns. “Our mission,” Mozilla proclaims, “is to promote openness, innovation & opportunity on the Web.”
Underlying this mission is a declaration of sorts, something the California foundation labels “The Mozilla Manifesto.” Among its 10 principles are:
2. 2. The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.
6. 6. The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.
The creation of a centralized gate to participation in the digital economy seems to run counter to the goals of an open, accessible, decentralized Internet. Deciding centrally what is best for consumers - and rendering explicit judgments that individual isolationism is preferable to a diversity of information on the Internet - appears to defy Mozilla’s charter.
Perhaps worse is the organization’s blindness to its own potential, as it evolves inside a cocoon spun by techno-libertarians and academic elites who believe in liberty and freedom for all, as long as they get to decide the definitions of liberty and freedom. By dealing exclusively with the issue of controls around cookies, Mozilla is missing a great opportunity to talk about the options for identity management and safety in a larger scope. A solution that empowers consumer choice in both the mobile OS and desktop browser spaces would bring significantly more value to all involved parties, and allow Mozilla to promote thought leadership with its nascent Mobile OS.
We’d like to work with Mozilla and other browser makers to get there. In fact, Mozilla should consider this an open, public invitation to join the IAB. We’ll even waive its annual dues for the first year, just to get its people participating in what we do and understanding more deeply the concerns of the digital advertising industry. The same goes for the browser teams at Apple, Google, and Microsoft. These companies already are members of the IAB, some of them highly participatory, but their browser teams remain generally uninvolved in what we do. We are looking to these browser makers, and the other would-be gatekeepers of the Internet, to work with us to resolve a critical social, economic, and cultural dilemma - how to balance the desire for privacy with the value of cultural diversity.
Unfortunately, the new proposal from Mozilla is not that resolution. Rather, it and other browser makers continue to fight their solo war against each other, leaving the rest of us as potential collateral damage.
So to summarize, here’s what we would like to see from Mozilla:
- Block the ad-blockers, and turn your backs on those who delight in destroying others’ livelihoods.
- Don’t align yourself with individuals and groups whose history shows them unwilling to strive for consensus among multiple stakeholder groups.
- Strive to protect user privacy and anonymity, but understand that these are different than user isolationism.
- Show publishers, agencies, and marketers that you care about their businesses, and work toward solutions that help content get distributed and fairly compensated.
- Elevate the diversity of Web content to your highest value of all. And work with us to achieve it.
Randall Rothenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Advertising Bureau.
For marketers just getting their feet wet in mobile, it can be hard to understand return on investment. At the macro level, spending on mobile advertising is booming (new research from IAB and IAB Europe pegs mobile ad revenue at $8.9 Billion USD worldwide in 2012). However, an overly narrow view risks undervaluing the benefits that mobile advertising brings. That’s why we are pleased to unveil the newest IAB Mobile Center web tool: Mobile Value.
Mobile Value enables a holistic view of the multi-channel impact of mobile advertising. Our calculator consists of a series of simple, fill-in-the-blank web-based forms that invite marketers to input basic data from a recent (or ongoing) campaign—no names or details needed.
The Mobile Value tool incorporates five key mobile value-drivers:
- App downloads
- Cross device purchases
- Mobile site visits
- In-store sales
Of course, not all of these will apply to all campaigns or all marketers, but completing a full circuit of the tool’s components results in a calculation that demonstrates, in dollars and cents, the value a marketer derives from its mobile ad investment.
Complementing each component is a set of measurement tips to help a marketer find (or estimate) the data they need, along with case studies that drive home how each of these components contributes to the total return from mobile advertising.
We’d like to thank our friends at Google for their help creating this tool, and we hope that marketers find it a useful compass as they navigate mobile’s waters!
Joe Laszlo is Senior Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the IAB.
A Reason To Party
On Tuesday night, July 25, 2013, IAB was proud to host a celebration in recognition of the first class of Certification holders and all those who helped create and support IAB Digital Media Sales Certification.
Here’s what we have accomplished in just one year:
- More than 1,200 have registered
for the program
- Companies like AOL, Collective and
IDG have committed to certifying their entire sales teams
- A number of companies (24/7 Media,
Trial Retail Media and About.com) have made Certification part of their hiring
and training processes
- Certification holders and their
managers have given us tremendous positive feedback about the reception of the
program from the marketplace
- Every day sales professionals from leading companies across the country are signing up to take the exam
During the event, exclusive guests networked at Lavo in New York City. Many Certification holders and sales executives shared their experiences about how colleagues and clients have responded to Certification.
Matthew White, National Digital Director at Time Inc.’s My Recipes was on the committee that helped create the exam and is now a Certification holder. “This is a great training tool for companies. It opens up your perspective to parts of the industry outside of your own experience. This makes for a better understanding of your competition, the products they may be selling and how.”
Why Sales Certification?
Randall Rothenberg, IAB President and CEO, told the crowd, that the Certification program came from his earliest meetings with IAB member companies, seven years ago. “The thing that came up over and over again from companies big and small was, ‘We need training!’ We learned after years of work, that the best way to scale training in a new industry was not to create the course work yourself. It is to codify industry knowledge within your network, turn it into a standardized test, and get others to teach that test around the world.”
Randall went on to say, “The program has exceeded our wildest expectations. With big companies signing on and making it a requirement it’s taking on a life of its own.”
One of the most frequent questions we heard in the beginning
was, “Why do sales people even need
certification?” We created the program because
digital advertising buyers and sellers needed a benchmark to ensure that sales
people had the basic knowledge required to sell new media programs. The ecosystem changes so quickly, clients now
have a deeper level of trust that the people they talk to understand the
industry and comprehend their needs. No
one’s asking “why” any longer.
“With 1,000 people expected to pass the test by the end of 2012, we are in a position to make the industry stronger.” said Scott Schiller, EVP of Advertising Sales at NBC Universal and Chairman of IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Commission. “A few years ago one of the biggest complaints about the industry was the lack of perceived professionalism that digital sellers had compared to traditional media experts. (With Certification) the industry has come a long way, and the IAB is credited to helping with that. I encourage all of you who have not taken the test to encourage your company to participate.”
Marta Martinez, AOL’s Head of Sales Strategy & Operations, addressed the room on the company’s commitment to customer service, innovation and knowledge as well as “raising the bar on the internet,” helping clients fully leverage the medium as a marketing channel. “At AOL there is a lot of effort in bringing balance between the premium advertising and programmatic sides of the house. This is the reason why we requested that all of the front facing-sales people in the U.S. will be certified this year. When we announced the program internally there was huge demand. We are already seeing a lot of value from the program. We are all starting to speak the same language and we are no longer in the business of translation with our clients.”
July 10, 2013 - IAB Certification Day
In two weeks, on July 10, 2013, will officially be declared IAB Certification Day. It’s a day for certificants and friends of the program to demonstrate their support and pride for the credentials, by posting their badge online via social media. We ask everyone to use the hash tag #iabcertday, so that IAB can showcase everyone who participates. For information about how to participate or to follow the conversation on Certification Day go to: iab.net/certday
In just one year digital ad buyers, human resources professionals and sales executives have embraced the credential, integrating it into their business practice. By no means are we done defining and refining the program, but the milestones of 2012-2013 are sure indicators that Digital Media Sales Certification is here to stay.
“The industry needs to continue to embrace quality in sales and product to gain better trust with clients.” said Certification holder and SVP of Sales at pulsepoint, John Ruvolo. “Certification is a great step in the right direction to set a benchmark of trust for the industry.”
About the Author
Randall Rothenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Advertising Bureau.
The IAB is pleased to announce the appointment of Travis S. Howe, Senior Vice President for the Americas of Digital Sales Development & Ad Operations at Sony Pictures Television, as the new co-chair of the IAB Games Committee.
Based in New York, Travis founded the Americas
division in 2006, which manages digital ad sales for Sony’s entertainment
companies including PlayStation, Crackle, Sony Pictures Television (TV sites),
and FEARnet. In this role, Travis is responsible for leading the strategy,
sales development and digital ad operations divisions for North and South
America across online, mobile, gaming console and Sony’s suite of connected
Travis has proven leadership within the IAB Games Committee as well as numerous other IAB leadership roles including the Sales Executive and Digital Video Committees. In his new role, Travis will work with fellow Co-Chair Joy Taylor, Senior Director, Global Media Solutions at Electronic Arts (EA) to help galvanize the committee, establish working groups and strategic direction both short and long term with the goal of driving the committee to become an even more effective face for the rapidly evolving Games space.
The Games Committee is dedicated to showing the value and scale of gaming as an advertising medium which is driven by engaging content and cross platform solutions. All efforts will be centered on client objectives and needs which include creativity, scale and measurement.
The going-in key deliverables are focused on developing and executing a communication plan that educates the market on the value of gaming. A first priority will be to update and modernize the Platform Status Report. The communication plan will be centered on key areas of focus: Content, Platforms and Audience/Measurement.
Please join the IAB and co-chair Joy Taylor in welcoming Travis Howe as the new Games Committee Co-Chair
The next Committee meeting will take
place on July 10, 10-11:30am PT at the Sony Pictures Entertainment Lot in
Culver City, CA.
Please RSVP here to formally register, indicating whether you will be attending in person or remotely. Members are asked to please answer this two question Survey Monkey which, as discussed at the last meeting, will help us to better organize the committee.
For further information on the Games Committee, please contact
About the Author
Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives
at the IAB focusing on Social Media, B2B, Games, Content Marketing and Native Advertising.
She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst.