This expansion of the IAB Ad Campaign Measurement and Audit Guidelines and all other Impression Measurement Guidelines is intended to address an important component of the Measurement Certification Initiative of the IAB – the process supporting a publisher’s or ad agency’s use of a 3rd Party Ad Server (3PAS) and its Application Service Provider (ASP) solution. The guidance offered herein is derived from a consensus of areas for examination as shared with the IAB by the auditing organizations that are part of the IAB membership. This guidance applies only to the customers of audited/accredited/certified 3PAS companies and does not include enterprise customers of 3PAS or publishers or agencies with their own proprietary ad serving solutions.
In November 2004, the IAB's Measurement Task Force, with the support of major global organizations involved in the advertising and research disciplines, joined together to issue a global standard for counting online ad impressions.
Since that time, many major media companies and ad serving organizations with proprietary or enterprise ad serving technology have been audited as prominent brand marketers continue to demand the highest level of transparency and accountability from this world-class medium.
While the Ad Impression Guidelines focus primarily on the technical methodology for serving and counting an ad impression, additional processes and procedures may be implemented by those using a non-proprietary ad serving solution (i.e., an ASP offering from a 3rd Party Ad Server – 3PAS) in the course of campaign implementation. For a publisher or agency using a non-proprietary ad serving solution (ASP offering) to be certified, it would be necessary for the ASP offering to be certified as well as all processes relevant to the internal controls and advertising counting system, but which are outside the scope of the ASP and in control of the publisher or agency. These processes can affect the numbers produced by the ad serving systems. As such, any audit of the ad serving system by itself would not adequately examine these additional components and therefore the reported ad impression numbers may not be considered as qualifying for Measurement Certification. (see VI - Glossary).
The nature of 3PAS offerings in the marketplace vary as does the way in which companies use them. As such, the 3PAS may have facilities, processes and controls that are required to be performed by the company using the service in order to ensure the service is used in an appropriately controlled manner to ensure the complete and accurate processing of advertising transactions. Customers of 3PAS offerings should be aware that, as a customer, you will have responsibilities for certain controls that will be subject to audit and you should seek direct clarification of the boundaries of the 3PAS control versus areas under your direct control. The
3PAS should make available to publisher/agency auditors (upon request), appropriate certification audit information such that publisher/agency auditors can understand the extent and coverage of such audit. The 3PAS Description of Methodology (DOM) may be sufficient to satisfy this requirement, but may include management assertions and auditor opinions.