“Think globally, act locally” is an environmental call to action, but it’s equally applicable to the way many brands should think about online audiences and interactive marketing campaigns. To help marketers understand and embrace digital opportunities in the local sphere, IAB has published a new Local Buyer’s Guide. Numerous tools and platforms exist for creating consumer context, relevance, and engagement, and navigating these can seem tricky at first. However, adding local to your digital marketing arsenal will make campaigns much more effective. 

According to BIA Kelsey, in 2015, local advertisers will spend a total of $139.4 billion dollars targeting local audiences across all media, with the various forms of digital comprising about 26 percent of that total. BIA Kelsey’s forecast confirms that digital’s share of local is only going to grow over time, exceeding one in three local ad dollars spent by 2019. The IAB Local Buyer’s Guide aims to be the definitive industry reference for business decision-makers who need to learn about using digital to advertise to local audiences, and who wish to understand the burgeoning opportunities unlocked by local digital media’s growth and sophistication. This includes large national brands with local presences, small and medium businesses (SMBs), and regional-to-global ad agencies. 

The Guide includes:

  • Basic statistics on U.S. digital local advertising
  • A breakdown of digital platforms available for local media, including desktop and mobile, but also extending to digital TV and out-of-home as well
  • Factors to take into consideration when planning a local campaign
  • Best practices for the design of ads and creative content
  • What metrics are available and how to measure success
  • Examples of successful campaigns

In the world of digital media, “local” and “location” are closely intertwined, but not identical. For the purposes of this Guide, “location” is a data-centric and technology-centric concept, while “local” refers to people, and the place or places that are most meaningful and relevant to them. Thus while geo-targeting is a powerful tool with many applications, the guide keeps a focus on a person-centric approach that helps marketers reach customers with useful and eye-catching messaging where they live, work, and make most of their purchases. 

The Guide concentrates its advice on several of the key skills marketers need to succeed with local. Much of the guide focuses on the need to balance locally relevant messages with the desired scale and reach of a marketing campaign. Other key recommendations include:

  • Think of local and location as a part of who a customer is, not just where they are.
  • Leverage mobile as an increasingly vital channel for reaching local audiences.
  • Use programmatic to help automate local buying.
  • Plan campaign goals to really understand and attribute success, not simply to track every possible datapoint.
  • Leverage other IAB tools, services, and capabilities for deeper dives and to help pick effective local advertising sellers and technical solutions.

The IAB Mobile Center extends its gratitude to Cofactor and Hulu, for sponsoring the creation of the guide, to BIA Kelsey for its research and writing expertise, and to the entire IAB Local Committee, for generously sharing their time, advice, and feedback. Download the IAB Local Buyer’s Guide here

About the Author


Joe Laszlo

Joe Laszlo is Senior Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.


Members of IAB Game Advertising Committee took the stage today at the New York Media Festival to discuss some key hurdles that keep many brands out of game advertising and ways that the game industry needs to reframe the conversation to better highlight the benefits of game advertising to marketers.


The Premium Nature of Games - Agencies don’t fully understand the premium nature of game advertising. The problem is that definition of premium means different things as we look at mobile web vs. in-app and most of the 3rd party verification or tracking companies are focused on mobile web and desktop and the in-app ecosystem isn’t a focus. We need to help agencies understand that game advertising is premium advertising. 

Reframing the Conversation:  The education should be on engagement, attention, time spent, metrics and results…and by doing so, mobile in-app advertising wins. The sell and focus should be on these measurable KPIs vs. calling out gaming out of the gate. 


Creative Delivery -  Agencies may feel there are too many technical challenges around creative delivery due to fragmented mobile market and differences with desktop. This can inhibit inclusion of game advertising as part of a brand’s media mix.  

Reframing the Conversation: It’s never been easier to advertise with games. Current standards based creative support via VPAID and newer flavors of MRAID and HTML5 usage greatly diminish technical challenges to creative delivery. An example of this is that different ad networks provide various solutions including custom units. Utilizing IAB standards for VAST, VPAID and MRAID can ensure successful delivery.  

KPIs - Many traditional media brands fail to recognize the powerful, positive emotional responses mobile games can elicit from people and, thus, have not yet leveraged available game-centered ad products that allow them to tap into that emotion. There is an education gap that we need to bridge.

Reframing the Conversation:  The sell side needs to encourage marketers to go beyond the CPM and site lists and instead focus on engagement and emotion - reaching your audience at scale through impactful creative at impactful times. There are many game-based ad formats available, including Rewarded Video solutions and our Playable Ads, which allow brands to tap into the emotional aspects of mobile gaming to garner positive association and promote brand messages.  

Viewability/Bots - As with any digital advertising, marketers want their content to be seen by humans, not bots - and they want to make sure their ads are viewable. In many cases, they want to transact on 100% viewability. Agencies are not aware of the inherent high viewability and guaranteed bot-free audiences afforded by in-game advertising.  

Reframing the Conversation:  The industry can work to reinforce the fact that in-game, in-app rewarded video inventory is inherently viewable and opt-in. An example of this is how we integrate with Moat to be able to report on and bill on viewable video in mobile games. This means we can guarantee 100% viewability and 100% bot-free audiences for advertisers. 

Engaging Content/Brand as Hero - Agencies do not always think of games in terms of content that can illicit the same engagement and emotion that brands seek out through formats like television. There are many ways for brands to interact with games from offer walls and full screen videos, to in-game advertising and custom branded games and they each can achieve different brand objectives depending on the strategy. Agencies need to understand that some game ad formats are commoditized placements focused on direct response while others are designed to reach the upper funnel goals of brand advertisers. 

Reframing the Conversation: The industry needs to do a better job helping agencies to understand that high impact brand experiences are available through games that are focused on designing ad placements along with the overall game design where the brand becomes the hero for the user. As an example, when brands are looking to make a meaningful connection to their audience via brand awareness campaigns, we pitch games as a way to deliver their brand message at an emotional moment since game developers have the unique aspect of managing a game loop. Where by design they can move a user through an environment and be able to predict the state of that user. If the brand message can align with that emotional moment, the player will have a memorable positive experience with the brand. The industry needs to show more examples of this type of advertising, with proven results, to attract more brand advertisers.

Despite the fact that the data is rock solid to prove the diverse audience, consumer engagement and effectiveness of game advertising, many agencies and marketers run from advertising on games for all the wrong reasons. To dispel the myths and address potential confusion surrounding game advertising, it’s time for the game industry to reframe the conversation to help the buy side become more understanding, receptive and excited about advertising with games - the most engaging content out there.  

The IAB Game Advertising Ecosystem Guide and the IAB research study “Mobile Gamers:  Who They Are, How They Shop and How to Reach Them” provide additional information about gamer and game advertising landscape. 

About the Author

Susan Borst

Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives and IAB lead for the Content Marketing and Native Advertising Task Force groups, along with Social Media, B2B and Game Advertising Committees. 
She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @susanborst

“What wakes you up in the morning, and puts you to sleep at night?” - “My smartphone.”
That’s one of the themes we gleaned from our recent interview of four summer interns here at the IAB. 

These interns are young Millennials and Gen Zs, and each is going into a different year in college. This highly coveted demographic has been the subject of many studies, including the IAB Mobile Center and Qriously survey released last week at the IAB MIXX Conference. Our conversation with IAB’s summer interns by no means provide a conclusive sample of their age groups. However, we gleaned some common threads, which reinforce our survey as well as many other quantitative research. 

Members of this group are addicted to their phones. From the moment the alarm clocks on their phones wake them, they start a day of interactions with their devices. Before getting out of bed, they shake off their sleepiness by catching up on social media feeds or new messages from friends. Throughout the day, there is a lot of Facebook, Snapchat, GroupMe, Instagram, and emailing, gaming, and Googling. At night, they do not put away their phones and go to sleep until they watch some mobile videos and say goodnight to their friends via messaging apps and social media.  All agreed with the sentiment that their phone is highly personal, and a “pillar of your daily life.” And all agreed that mobile is a lifeline—it’s “crippling” to be without it, or to be stuck with a dead battery.

Most of the time spent on their smartphones is in mobile apps. The occasional use of mobile web is usually led by a Google search. This preference for apps is also revealed subconsciously through a word association exercise: we asked the interns to write down anything they think when they hear “mobile.” Apps occurred in everyone’s word associations. Never was web mentioned. 

Young Millennials and Gen Zs are the true smartphone-natives. Unlike older Millennials who grew up in an age with iPods and Myspace, they grew up multi-tasking on their multifunctional smartphones. They absorb information fast and lose interest fast. When they are curious about something, they immediately turn to their phones to either search or ask friends for answers. When they are bored, be it at school or at a Thanksgiving dinner table, they reach out to their phones as an “escape” to chat with friends or scroll through news feeds. If what is presented to them is not entertaining or informative, they tune out quickly as there is a sea of entertainment and information right at their fingertips. For marketers, grabbing their attention in the first five seconds and keeping the message catchy is the key to impressing Millennials and Gen Zs.

All said that when they do watch TV content, it’s rarely on a TV set— TV is used “only if sharing a movie, watching it with people, or playing it off a laptop.”  They are more likely to watch videos than read text feeds because videos are usually more fun. Some of them consider TV series too long to sit through and prefer to watch lots of short video clips. 

We also asked our interns about their attitudes toward mobile digital advertising. Some of the common threads are that they pay more attention to ads that are native to the environment and that are, needlessly to say, creative and relevant to their needs. Ads in Instagram and Tinder were called out as being particularly good at “fitting in” contextually. Usually, they bestow more trust on new brands if they find out about them through friends and families. 

Though these four interns have a lot in common, our interview reminded us that each individual is unique. For example, one uses Facebook mostly to “stalk” people; one posts to it to gather validation from friends; one mainly uses it as a “utility” to share group photos; and one is no longer using it at all. Another example is that most of them listen to music on Spotify, Youtube or Soundcloud. Yet, one of the interns also has the WQXR app, a classical music app, whose main audience skews much older. Thus, as much as we are trying to understand this demographic as a whole, we should also keep in mind the differences among individuals. 

Appendix: word association networks courtesy of the interns
mobile cloud.png

For a while, it seemed that Private Marketplaces (PMPs)* were the solution to every problem.  Worried about the quality of inventory in the open auction? Worried about programmatic becoming a race to the bottom? Worried about control as a publisher? PMPs were the answer.

In the rush to set up a Private Marketplace, far too few people were evaluating whether a Private Marketplace was truly the most appropriate approach. Even fewer were assessing ahead of time what the overlap was between the buyer’s target audience and the publisher’s audience. The result was PMPs not delivering ROI and the volume of transactions through PMPs not meeting expectations.

The answer? #PMPChecklist
The IAB PMP Checklist was created by a sub-group of IAB’s Programmatic Council including representatives from companies across the programmatic landscape including publishers, SSPs, DSPs, and media buyers.  
The aim of the checklist is to ensure that buyers and sellers are on the same page about what they are trying to achieve from their Private Marketplace and that they appropriately assess (before moving ahead) whether it is the right channel to transact through.  

How does it do that?
The PMP Checklist provides a list of issues that buyers and sellers need to discuss and agree to ensure ROI from their private marketplaces.  The Checklist is divided into 3 key sections:

1. Consideration 
The aim at this stage is to determine if a Private Marketplace is the appropriate approach and will yield ROI by comparing the buyer’s needs & target audience with publisher’s capabilities & audience.

2. Activation 
Having established that a Private Marketplace is the right approach, the aim at Stage 2 is to ensure that buyer and seller agree on parties involved, inventory transparency, and financial terms/timing to deliver ROI.

3. Troubleshooting
The aim at Stage 3 is to help identify some common issues such as low impression volume, poor win rate, and flighting/targeting, that may arise once the Private Marketplace is set up.

Our goal was to create a helpful, simple tool for buyers, sellers, and everyone involved in Private Marketplaces. We want them to speak the same language and cover the important issues at all stages in Private Marketplace development.

Special thanks to all those who participated especially the two co-chairs of the IAB Programmatic Council for their leadership - Jason White of CBS Interactive and Bob Arnold of Google.

*A private marketplace is defined as covering both an invitation-only (or private auction) and/or an unreserved fixed rate deal (or preferred deal/first look)


For the past few years IAB has been encouraging companies to invest in their employees by having them take the Sales, Ad Ops and Data certification exams. We’ve been quite successful—over 7,000 applicants so far. But, not surprisingly, we hear objections from time to time. 


There’s one particular pushback that makes no sense to me at all. That’s the statement that certification merely increases the risk of a certified employee looking for a better opportunity somewhere else; in other words, encouraging employees to earn a credential that demonstrates professional capability actually hurts the company.

Or, as leadership specialist Peter Baeklund puts it, when someone says: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?” the proper response is “What happens if you don’t, and they stay?”

Doesn’t it make sense that people would prefer to work for companies that invest in developing their capabilities and keeping their skill sets relevant through constant learning opportunities? Doesn’t this type of commitment to the employee foster a commitment to the company in return and contribute to a better corporate culture?

There’s no denying that retention is a major problem during the boom times in our industry, but depriving managers of learning and development opportunities isn’t the answer—and it’s definitely not going to help the company either. The only talent issue that’s greater than retention today is leadership; that is, the lack of training programs that target leaders at all levels, but particularly those in the middle.

Nearly half of all Millennials currently have some leadership responsibilities according to a Deloitte study, yet 66% of the companies Deloitte surveyed reported they have weak capabilities when to comes to providing leadership programs for that demographic.

IAB recognizes that not every company can create the type of leadership program that teaches core management skills, foundational understanding of business functions, and basic business and product strategy. And that is why we have created the IAB Digital Leadership Program. This is a new approach to helping managers not only acquire knowledge, but also the skills required to take on the roles and responsibilities that our fast-changing industry requires. This is a program that’s being developed by industry professionals and subject matter experts for industry professionals. The first semester kick off this fall in both a three-day intensive and one night a week classroom format.

I encourage you—as an individual interested in taking responsibility for your own professional growth, or as a team leader who has responsibility for the growth of others—to review the IAB Digital Leadership Program and consider making an extremely worthwhile investment in the development of your staff. If you have any questions just drop us a line at [email protected], we’ll be glad to answer them.

About the Author


Today the IAB Mobile Center published a new piece in IAB’s Digital Simplified series that examines Mobile Ad Engagement Metrics. This piece builds on the groundbreaking “Defining and Measuring Digital Ad Engagement in a Cross-Platform World,” released in February 2014 as part of Making Measurement Make Sense. As indicated by the title, this engagement framework document is extremely mobile and cross-screen relevant.  IAB’s Mobile Measurement Task Force created this Digital Simplified to highlight and reinforce a few additional metrics, as well as to indicate a couple of ways that measuring engagement on smartphones and tablets diverges from the desktop.  These two documents will help bring order and clarity to ongoing industry conversations about capturing and understanding consumer engagement with ads on mobile screens. 



The Age of HTML5 Ads

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iStock_000017240236_Large.jpgAs September approaches, Ad Tech world has one more thing to look forward to besides fall colors—HTML5. Just as the daylight hours shorten and veins that carry fluids to the leaves are blocked off, browsers are turning on power saver plugins that will further diminish the audience for flash—giving way to a new canvas to paint with HTML5 Ads. It will usher in a new era of media rich and responsive ad units that will be seamlessly served across devices, platforms and browsers.

Since the publication of WHATG Living Standard for HTML5 in 2012, publishers have been migrating to HTML5. Today, only about 10% of all websites use Flash for client side technology. IAB has provided support to the industry in this transition through best practices guidance via HTML5 for Digital Advertising: Guide for Ad Designers and Creative Technologists and by making HTML5 a cornerstone for Make Mobile Work initiative. But the pace of change has never been faster and the resolve to push this transition has never been more intense. Since the W3C’s release of HTML5 as stable recommendation in October 2014, IAB Display Creative guidelines Workgroup has been testing a diverse range HTML5 ad units for load performance and optimization.

Several initiatives are underway or about to take off at IAB Tech Labs to help the industry take advantage of all that HTML5 has to offer.

  • Updated Creative Display Guidelines released for public comments to embrace HTML5 based standards and allow for higher file weights, multiple file requests, use of code libraries and make use of canvas and video elements. This is a direct result of extensive testing for load performance of HTML5 ad units. The new guidelines will help publishers and advertisers standardize HTML5 ad specifications to deliver seamless experiences to consumers. In future, the display guidelines will be converted into a technical specification that will advance iteratively and can be easily integrated into Ad Tech vendor products to comply with faster change of pace

  • Revision of the HTML5 for Digital Advertising: Guide for Ad designers and Creative Technologists with more specific information and actions that you can pursue in transitioning to HTML5. This covers a diverse range of topics like optimization of assets, use of code libraries, click tag implementation,  common tools and platforms, animation and video, ad server compatibility and effectively applying related technologies like CSS3, JS, SVG, Web Fonts, 2D WebGL, and more.

  • Revising the HTML5 for Digital Advertising resources Wiki to make it a continuously updated page reviewed quarterly for constantly changing compatibilities as well as repository of tool, libraries and platforms with data on how to evaluate the tools that best fit an advertiser’s needs

  • Building an HTML5 Ad Validator to support publishers and creative developers in validating ad assets against IAB display guidelines compliance for file weight calculations, number of requests, initial display and subload guidance as well as load performance data

  • New Webinars from leaders in HTML5 adoptions on the most pressing questions about a successful transition

  • Events for deep dives into HTML5 creative technology to provide a hands on guidance as well as opportunity to ask in depth questions

  • Flex Ad standards will revise the ad portfolio and display guidelines into responsive ad units that take full advantage of canvas element to create rich, immersive, and interactive brand experiences, while at the same time responding to the device size to blend seamlessly into fluid and responsive modern websites and apps designs. These standards will be revised on a continuous basis to keep pace with the fast changing markets and maintained as versions to enable smoother adoption in smaller iterations.

  • Dynamic Ad Standards for truly dynamic content optimization for digital ads that will allow creative to catch up with ad tech’s ability to target, render, and serve ads based on dynamic audience and context variables

Its going to be an exciting Fall as it sets the stage for bidding adieu to Flash ads that have been the mainstay for Display Advertising for over a decade and chart a new path as we learn, adopt and welcome the age of HTML5 Ads.

About the Author


Shailley Singh is Director of Mobile and Ad Products at the IAB Tech Lab
The world of leadership education for digital advertising and marketing is about to change. Having spent the past seven years working at a tier-one research university and delivering programs to top 100 firms around the globe, I have seen how management education can transform organizations and catapult individual careers This Fall we are launching the IAB Digital Leadership Program and I am excited to build upon past success by migrating the educational model outside of the ivory towers.  In combining the academic rigor of traditional executive education with a tactical, real-world focus customized specifically for today’s new media marketplace, IAB is forging a new path for digital leaders.  

Digital Leadership vs. Traditional Executive Education?
IAB-Digital_leadership_program_new.jpgWe have seen many IAB member companies struggle to stay ahead of changing technologies and to reinvent their business models for the new digital world. From more empowered customers to a proliferation of suppliers and choices, traditional strategies and approaches are rapidly being replaced with newer models and younger firms who are more nimble. The need for a leadership education curriculum designed specifically to guide the media and marketing industry through these fluctuations has never been stronger. 

While IAB’s Certification programs have addressed the need for industry education on the front lines, there exists a gap in knowledge, skills, and training for senior digital media managers and directors IAB’s Digital Leadership Program will fill this gap by offering coursework that will prepare mid-level professionals with the managerial and business strategy skills needed to succeed in their careers and to rise to the top of the industry.
IAB’s member base of more than 650 leading companies is responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing 86% of digital advertising and marketing campaigns across the globe, and we assembled an Advisory Board made up of the industry’s greatest minds to create the program’s curriculum.

Participants will learn how to develop a successful competitive strategy and to position their brands and digital products, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls that many media companies have made. They will amass a set of practical tools and important questions to ask of their teams across sales, data, and measurement. Our faculty of instructors is comprised of experienced business and thought leaders who have successfully navigated the digital landscape and they love telling war stories of what worked or didn’t and why.    
An Interactive Learning Experience
By taking leadership education outside of the university, we are also looking to push the educational experience beyond the classroom.The majority of the curriculum will be taught through exercises, simulations and role-playing. Participants will visit digital media incubators, work environments, and other leading facilities to see examples of best practices first hand. Programs also include capstone projects in which participants apply their education to real world scenarios. We envision that the program will leverage state-of-the-art educational technology, ultimately through an online portal and interactive apps.  

First Open Enrollment: October 2015
Our first course offerings for October 2015 are now open and will be hosted in the IAB Ad Lab in NYC.This six-module program is our foundation curriculum and will introduce participants to the essentials of digital leadership.The program is limited to 35 participants per class and it is our recommendation that firms nominate participants. Registration will be prioritized for IAB member companies, with non-member firms having an opportunity to fill any remaining spots.

More to Come from IAB Digital Leadership
IAB will also able to offer on-site versions of the Digital Leadership Program privately for our member companies, because the curriculum is designed to be highly customized for their specific needs. Course material, exercises and speakers can be modified to help organizations achieve strategic training outcomes. We will also offer formal mentorships and consulting opportunities after the training to help implement ideas and projects that are started throughout the program. 

With such a need in the digital media and advertising marketplace for a leadership program, I can’t wait to get started and prepare the next generation for the road ahead.  

About the Author

EricGreenberg.pngEric Greenberg

Eric is the creator and Head of Digital Leadership Programs, IAB as well as President of EG Consultants, LLC, a educational and marketing consulting firm focused on providing brand management and customer centric strategies to Fortune 100 clients.  

Prior to IAB, Eric served as the Managing Director of Executive Education for Rutgers University, in which he created, managed and taught executive education programs to Fortune 100 executives in four continents. Email him at [email protected]

The IAB Native Advertising Playbook outlined six types of native advertising formats and gave examples of commonly used disclosure language for each format. Because much has changed since the Playbook was published in December, 2013, the IAB Native Advertising Task Force sought to better understand what was happening in the marketplace today with a more comprehensive snapshot view of disclosure language as well as other visual cues used by leading web properties. 

We focused on in-feed ad units, what a consumer sees in a site’s natural activity stream, as this format continues to grow and evolve with different ad types.* The goal was to better understand what cues web publishers were providing to help consumers distinguish between the paid ad and the surrounding editorial content before they clicked to the destination site or page. Study methodology is outlined below.

What ads and disclosure cues were evaluated? 
IAB focused on the comScore Top 100 Most Visited Web Properties and evaluated in-feed ads on desktop only**. Of the top 100 web properties, 45 had in-feed ads. For each of these 45 web properties, we evaluated the individual publisher sites for those properties, bringing the total number of .com sites to 85. If a site had more than one in-feed native ad on a page (homepage and/or any article page that had a feed on them), we evaluated each ad on the page and counted it individually. The total number of ads evaluated was 117.

Each in-feed ad unit was evaluated based on the same criteria: 

1)  Is there a Primary Disclosure Statement of any kind? (e.g., Sponsored by, promoted, etc.) 
  • If yes, what is it, where is it found in the ad and is the type size larger, smaller or the same size as the ad copy type size?
2)  Is the brand or company sponsor disclosed in any way? 
  • If yes, how is it disclosed - logo, name or both?
3)  Does the ad have any shading? 
  • If yes, is it dark, medium or light?
4)  Does the ad have a lined border, either a lined rule above or below or a complete boxed line?

5)  Does the ad contain the AdChoices icon?  

Note: Per guidance from the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), the entity responsible for enforcing industry’s Self-Regulatory Principles For Online Behavioral Advertising, enhanced notice such as the AdChoices icon is only required on native ads to the extent the native ad utilizes targeting based on prior browsing information.

6) Does the ad contain a separate roll-over link to provide the consumer with additional information such as the origin of the content in the ad? (e.g., “What’s this?” link)

*Because disclosure after the click at the destination page/site is also important, IAB plans to evaluate that aspect separately for in-feed advertising. 
**We recognize that disclosure practices could vary on mobile vs. desktop due to size limitations and fluctuations. For example, IAB members have told us that in some mobile instances, a brand logo may not be included in the in-feed ad as it will not be readable. IAB is discussing ways to evaluate disclosure on mobile.

Less than half of the top 100 most visited web properties in the US have in-feed ad units on their site(s)
  • Of the 55 web properties that did not have in-feed ads, some sites have no advertising at all (e.g., Apple.com - ranked #13 most visited), while others may have had different types of native adverting formats on their site such as Search, Product Listings or Recommendation Widgets. A link to the comScore list is seen in the Methodology section below. 

There is near-universal use of a Primary Disclosure Statement (96%)
  • Statements that include some variation of the word “sponsored” are used by over half of all in-feed ads evaluated (55%)
  • Twelve percent of statements included a variety of words/terms including “Brought to you by”, “Advertisement presented by”, “In association with”, “Content from”, “In partnership with”, “Supported by” or language that is unique to that site (e.g., BrandVoice). That tabulation appears in the infographic below as “Other.”

The vast majority disclose the brand sponsor in some way (87%) 
  • When the brand sponsor is disclosed, there is wide variation of how the brand/sponsor is disclosed. The most common presentation is with the name only (no logo) at 36%

Some type of visual border (a line above or below, or a full box outline) was also seen with the majority of ads (60%)

Other visual disclosure cues are used at varying and much lower rates including the use of any shading (35%), separate roll over link to provide more information (10%), and AdChoices icon (1%)

“We hope this snapshot view of in-feed disclosure practices will be helpful to publishers and advertisers alike, all with the aim of creating the best possible user experience,” said Jay Widlitz, Founder at Brandtale and member of the IAB Native Advertising Task Force, who aggregated the data for this study.
A Final Note
The benefit of better understanding the current in-feed ad disclosure landscape among key web properties is two-fold:

FOR PUBLISHERS: Providing a snapshot of the most commonly used disclosure cues by leading web properties will be helpful for those considering new disclosure options and also for those that are just starting native advertising on their site(s.)
FOR MARKETERS/AGENCIES: This learning will provide a sense of how their in-feed ads could be disclosed to the consumer and the variations that can occur depending on the site, noting that in-feed ad disclosure is at the sole discretion of the publisher.

Importantly, in no way are the learnings from this snapshot view of in-feed disclosure practices from leading web properties intended to suggest or imply that one disclosure practice, or set of practices is better or more effective than another. What we do know, however, as articulated in the original IAB Native Advertising Playbook, is that the native advertising landscape is rapidly evolving, with publishers working with advertisers with the goal to create increasingly effective ad experiences. Consumer perceptions of these ad products are changing as well, as viewers become accustomed and more experienced interacting with brands in new ways. For this reason, it is not possible to recommend a single, one-size-fits all disclosure mechanism for in-feed ads or the other native ad types. It is possible, however, to demand adherence to the core principle that regardless of context, a reasonable consumer should be able to distinguish between what is a paid native advertising unit vs. what is publisher editorial content in the feed.

IAB continues to recommend the disclosure principles set out in the IAB Native Advertising Playbook.

FTC documents relating to ad disclosure can be found here:

For more information on In-Feed Advertising Units, please refer to the IAB Deep Dive on In-Feed Ad Units and the IAB/Edelman quantitative consumer research study titled “Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: The Consumer View.”

- IAB evaluated the Top 100 Most Visited Web Properties (Total Audience) in the US per comScore ranking (time period April, 2015).
  • Publisher websites were evaluated on desktop only focusing exclusively on in-feed advertising units, regardless of who powered the unit (e.g., custom or third party).
  • Excluded were In-Game ads due to their unique features. More information on In-Game ads can be found in the IAB Game Advertising Ecosystem Guide. Other native ad formats identified in the IAB Native Advertising Playbook (Search, Recommendation Widgets, and IAB Standard Ads with Native Elements) were thus excluded as disclosure practices for each format can vary.

- A two-step process was used to aggregate the data to determine if In-Feed native advertising was present on the site. This process was performed by Brandtale. 
  • In-Feed Native ads were identified on each webpage using a similar technology methodology as Ad Block. For each site, every homepage and any article page that had a feed on them at the time were evaluated.
  • Note: This methodology cannot detect in-feed ads delivered from the same server as the content, using the same formatting; however, in instances where in-feed native ads were not detected with this methodology, a manual review of the site was conducted to determine if in-feed native advertising was present on the site.
  • The ad’s coordinates on the webpage were grabbed and a screenshot of the area was taken using a programmable web browser.

- Each ad was evaluated on the previously mentioned criteria by two separate people: one from Brandtale and one from IAB.

About the Author

Susan Borst

Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives and IAB lead for the Content Marketing and Native Advertising Task Force groups, along with Social Media, B2B and Game Advertising Committees. 
She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @susanborst

IAB’s Make Mobile Work initiative was a great success for us and for our members last year. Launched at the 2014 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, we started the Make Mobile Work program to foster adoption of HTML5 and cross-screen creative, but it quickly became the Mobile Center’s lynchpin for marketer outreach as interest in the program accelerated. We’ve had support from both the IAB and Mobile Center Boards, and member participation from Google, Millennial Media, Celtra, Tremor Video, Conversant, AOL, Time Inc., Foursquare and many others. Make Mobile Work brought hundreds of marketers to the IAB in 2014 as the definitive source for information on how to Make Mobile Work. 

For 2015, we’re excited to bring back Make Mobile Work for another round of educational, insightful, and practical conversations for brand marketers, to help them succeed in our increasingly mobile-first world.  

The importance of HTML5 for digital marketing continues to be a cornerstone of the Make Mobile Work message, and it’s great to see IAB members promote it as well. For example, Google declared last week “HTML5 Week,” with a series of events focused on tactics for using the standard.  

For our part, IAB’s Tech Lab is updating our standard ad units to reflect the file size needs of HTML5-based ads. This is a timely effort as connectivity technologies have changed along with the rise of HTML5 and it’s vital that we realign buyer and seller expectations around ad file weights that will enable engaging ads, while not harming webpage or ad-load performance.  Make Mobile Work will help to spread the word about this process and its outcomes and implications.

Make Mobile Work webinars will address three important topics over the remainder of 2015. These webinars are curated with marketer business decision-makers in mind—they will keep the jargon to a minimum and focus on sharing practical examples and learning.

Along with the members of the Mobile Center, we’re looking forward to continuing to help brands large and small, novice and experienced, get the know-how they need to make mobile work for them.

About the Author


Joe Laszlo

Joe Laszlo is Senior Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.



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