Mobilizing Rich Media Advertising

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A ton of great news and ideas came out of the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, to the extent that both the IAB staff and the industry as a whole will be absorbing and following up on things for weeks to come. Among many other things, I was really pleased that Blake Irving, Yahoo!’s Chief Product Officer, mentioned one of the major priorities of the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence for the year in his keynote—helping smooth the process of doing rich media ad serving on mobile and tablet devices.

Mobile rich media ads are exploding in popularity with the rise of ever more powerful connected devices. Both in apps and in browsers, these expandable, contractible, interactable, richer ad experiences have taken off even more quickly in mobile than they did on the Web. However, if the rich media ads themselves are well liked, the same can’t necessarily be said for the serving of those ads. Ad servers and publishers currently have a host of different rich media Application Programming Interfaces (or APIs—the technical “language” for how one piece of software communicates with another, in this case how an ad communicates its behaviors to an application or site). This cacophony requires a great deal of specialized work to make a rich media campaign work across multiple publishers, apps, or devices. Last year, a coalition including Crisp Media,, TringApps, JumpTap, and Pointroll took on the challenge of trying to simplify rich media ad serving through an initiative called Open Rich Media for Mobile Ads—or ORMMA.

ORMMA’s made great progress developing a reference SDK and tools for verifying that ads work under their framework. However, they also realize that to be a truly industry-wide standard would require a broader effort than ORMMA alone could mobilize. That’s why the IAB has gotten involved. With the support of both the ORMMA pioneers and other key players in the industry, including Yahoo!, we’re going to be driving the effort to create a harmonized set of APIs for mobile and tablet rich media. I don’t envision this being an easy project to take on, but it’s one that everyone in the industry agrees is vital, and with the input and assistance the IAB’s Mobile Committee members, I’m confident we can help streamline the creation and delivery of rich media ads early in the evolution of connected devices, thus paving the way for long term growth.

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