January 2012 Archives

Peter Minnium did a great job of gathering about 50 ad industry professionals of various digital make-ups in the same room. He certainly had a good reason: voting for the new Mobile Ad Standards doesn’t happen very often. Consequences are long-lasting.

Mobile is an interesting area. Amount of time users spend on their smartphones and tablets is not proportional to the amount of knowledge that either marketers or agencies have about how to effectively reach via mobile those same consumers. We’ve seen a lot of formats during the course of the day. At the end, I was not sure anymore what a format means. It seems I was not the only one—my confusion has apparently shared by a lot of entrants, too. There were quite a few solutions that resembled a Content Management System (CMS) more than a mobile ad. Others looked (and were) very expensive solutions, more expensive than we are used to seeing spent for an ad. Some suffered from non-intuitiveness and usability challenges. There were very, very good ones, of course—but I can’t reveal those until the winners are announced soon!

Our task was to pick a half-dozen Mobile Ad Standards that will work across the mobile ecosystem so that any stakeholder can develop a creative concept for a single mobile ad unit. The idea was that, in the future, these standards would allow wide mobile ad buys, aligned in the scale and scope with the online ones. (I can see the clients already getting excited). All of this is new.

Mobile-Rising-Stars-Judges.jpgIAB Mobile Rising Stars judges

New things usually happen by experimentation, testing different hypotheses and learning from results. Trying to replicate the process in the course of six hours is difficult, but not impossible. Diverse group of people, from various backgrounds, specialties, and points of view create a robust discussion where different perspectives are challenged, questioned, or supported. All of us there knew that our opinions count, and furthermore, that we will be held accountable for what comes out of that room. It made us even more critical and bold in our feedback. That was hopefully a good thing.

My overall takeaway is that innovation is hard. Replacing 2D mobile banners into immersive and engaging new ad units that utilize the full potential of mobile behaviors will take time. The standards will be updated. Ads will hopefully become more integrated into the overall mobile user experience and more naturally aligned with the user navigation as they intuitively move through content, commerce and communities. It won’t be something that needs to be swiped in a specific way or, something that provides islands of peculiar experience separated from everything else. Companies creating fully interactive banners will think more about how to get users to their banners as much as they are thinking what happens in banners once users click, or swipe, or do whatever the vendor envisioned them to do to start the experience. Tech back-end development, production costs and platform and OS hurdles will be slowing the process down, too. So will the education of 25-year old media buyers used to repeating the same buying practices and relying on the proven sources of revenue.

We are clearly just at the beginning. But the best thing about the beginnings is that they give you something to start from.

About the Author

Ana Andjelic

Ana works as Digital Strategist at Droga5 in New York. Before joining Droga, Ana worked at HUGE, Inc, Razorfish, The Barbarian Group, AKQA and Wunderman. Her work has been focused on digital branding, digital marketing, and digital content strategies for clients like Citibank, Nokia, Toyota, CNN, Target, Maybelline, and Burberry. Ana is a frequent contributor to AdAge, where she writes about digital marketing, and also shares her thoughts on her blog, I [love] marketing. Her presentations included Miami Ad School, Hyper Island Master Class, and Social Media Week. You can find her on Twitter @andjelicaaa.


The Air Up Here

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“It’s like reflecting on oxygen. You never consciously think about it, but you know it’s always right there.”

iab-job-task.pngThis is how one digital media sales exec described the seemingly simple task of mapping and documenting all the knowledge, skills, and capabilities that he uses in the daily doing of his job. Eight of his counterparts from other digital media companies nodded in vigorous agreement, realizing after just a few moments together how challenging it would be to pinpoint exactly what it is they do and know that makes them successful at their jobs.

The occasion for this meta-reflection was a Job / Task Analysis workshop, held at the IAB Ad Lab in December. The 2.5 day engagement was the first in a series of four workshops established to develop a new industry-wide certification exam for digital media sales professionals. The certification exam, due to go live in late summer, will establish minimum standards identifying what digital media salespeople ought to know in order to do their jobs effectively. This is an ambitious, but necessary, endeavor given the constant knowledge gaps created by the dynamic nature of digital marketing. Created by subject matter experts in our industry, facilitated by a professional certification development company, and sponsored by the IAB, the program will impartially guide industry-wide professional training needs and help hiring managers qualify candidates for roles.

A bit daunted, but excited, at the challenge of expounding on the merits of oxygen to All Who Breathe, the Job / Task Analysis team got to work. The nine-person think tank represented a wide cross-section of the US digital media industry, from a range of brands, company types, sizes, platforms, and geographies. What they shared was a common knowledge of digital media sales and a passion for helping to move the industry forward.

And move forward they did. By the third day, digital media jargon, abbreviations, and mathematics equations long taken for granted as general knowledge spilled from their lips as casually as … well, as casually as the oxygen rushed in to fuel their next brilliant observation. Participants were astounded to discover not only how much endemic knowledge they tapped into each day, but also how much of that know-how was shared across the industry, despite where each of them came from.

The output of this session will become the content outline for the certification exam. But first, their findings are being validated by the rest of the industry—that means you—through an online survey. All digital media sales teams should take this short survey to ensure we’re all breathing the same air. The link will be open until January 29, 2012.


About the Author

sp_schwartz_stacy.jpgStacy Smollin Schwartz

Stacy Smollin Schwartz is a consultant to the IAB and is project manager of its new Digital Media Sales Certification program.


Two billion people across the globe—more than a quarter of the world’s population use the Internet. Yet the source of its popularity is also our industry’s Achilles’ heel.

That is why the new public service campaign by the Salt Lake City office of MRM, a McCann Worldgroup company, for the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) is such a breakthrough. The launch of the consumer-facing “Your AdChoices” campaign aims to build more trust among Internet users by explaining how online advertising works. It is the first industry campaign that explains the benefits of online marketing communications, offers solutions for legitimate privacy concerns, directs consumers toward additional resources, and effectively demystifies the Web. More specifically, the campaign explains how interest-based ads give consumers more of the personal experience they want in their digital experience. Quoting one of its videos, the campaign exists “to give you more information and control over targeted advertising.” Through entertaining and compelling videos and banner ads, Your AdChoices will help millions learn how to use the AdChoices (also known as the Advertising Option) Icon. Known by its creators as the “Forward I,” the icon empowers consumers to control how and what advertising reaches them.

Example of Your AdChoices campaign ad

The DAA is the consortium founded by a half-dozen industry associations that are united in support of the open Internet and consumer protection. In addition to the IAB, the alliance includes the Association of National Advertisers, the 4As, the Direct Marketing Association, the American Advertising Federation, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The icon and the self-regulatory mechanism of which it is a part have been adopted by the IAB as part of our IAB Code of Conduct for members. That means if you belong to the IAB—as 500 of the most significant digital companies in the U.S. do—you must be part of this self-regulatory program.

The “Forward I” icon sits visibly in the corner of all digital ads that employ so-called behavioral data to fine-tune their delivery to the most interested consumers. When clicked, the icon takes consumers to the DAA website, where they can learn more about how targeted advertising enhances their online experiences, and how they can manage their own privacy preferences. It is already served voluntarily by marketers, publishers, and ad networks billions of times each week. But there has never been a major push to explain how to consumers how to proactively make their advertising and other content more relevant to their needs and interests. This MRM campaign-which soon will blanket digital mediais the first major advertising effort to promote interest-based advertising to consumers, and the first since the IAB’s own 2009 campaign to demonstrate the industry’s spirited dedication to self-regulation. By educating the people who see the Internet as an integral part of their lives, this campaign amplifies what they love about the web (exciting, personalized content), and protects them from what they fear (unwanted messages and breaches of privacy).

The IAB’s “Privacy Matters” campaign two years ago inaugurated the effort to explain our industry to the public. Thirty-two online publishers and ad networks committed more than 600 million impressions to the campaign, fueled by creative from the digital agency Schematic, media planning from Group M’s Mediaedge:cia, and ad serving from Atlas. Through “Privacy Matters,” we helped lay the foundation for building a trusting relationship between the interactive advertising industry and digital media users. We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to step up our game, by collaborating with our cousins in the trade association world to support the rollout of the new campaign, so we can explain to millions why and how we are using information to enhance their digital lives.

Your AdChoices takes a fresh approach to the issue of privacy. The message here is “let the right ad find you,” and promises that you can manage the kinds of ads that will reach you. In short, you can see more ads for products and services you might care about. In a playful style, the banners show a man dressed as a banner ad on the street, showing how close you are to that delivery of Thai food you so desperately crave.

The videos, using a friendly, stylized touch, explain what interest-based advertising is. In three short, easy-to-follow videos, you can quickly understand how advertisers are using anonymous browsing history to develop machine-driven ad experiences that are more customized to your interests than the mass advertising that has characterized the media for more than 200 years. The campaign also goes deeper, giving you help on managing your preferences and data.


By helping educate consumers, we are also helping keep the digital advertising industry free of unnecessary regulation. Too often, we’ve seen legislators and regulators recommend overly broad and sometimes technologically unfeasible solutions that could irreparably damage the infrastructure of the Internet and constrain user choice. For digital advertising to continue to flourish, we need to make sure that we are responsible enough to set our own agenda. That means ensuring the industry has the freedom to dazzle its users, but it also means making sure that those users who fuel our industry feel empowered and protected.

It’s up to us to protect the industry for those who shape it, and for those whose lives have come to depend on it.

About the Author

Randall Rothenberg

Randall Rothenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Advertising Bureau.


Earlier this summer, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) confirmed the names of the first 100 companies participating in the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA). These cross-industry companies reflect the biggest brands, publishers, and ad networks in our ecosystem. Last November, the DAA significantly expanded the scope of the self-regulation program beyond online behavioral advertising (OBA) to establish a clear framework to govern the collection and usage of data which includes a consumer choice mechanism for managing data collection practices.

Nutrition_Label.pngAll of these self-regulatory actions—implemented widely across the industry—are further proof that we continue to respond responsibly to privacy concerns with incremental and critical enhancements that improve consumer protection, choice, and control in online advertising.

Yet, there remain gaps in adoption and implementation, mostly due to lingering confusion about when the advertising option icon should be included on an ad and the responsibility of each party involved in the buying, selling, and delivery of that ad.

One of the OBA principles state that enhanced notice (via the icon that is often accompanied by the language Interest-Based Ads or AdChoices) must be served on or close to the ad when the ad is either behaviorally targeted or if data is being collected that could be used for future behavioral targeting. The responsibility to uphold this principle applies to every one of the parties involved in delivery of that ad: the advertiser, the agency ad server, the publisher ad server, and any ad network, exchange, DSP, or SSP. It is safe to assume that every single one of these parties involved in delivering a campaign captures a cookie, an IP address, and a variety of other data points that could be used for future behavioral targeting. As such, it’s imperative that any likelihood of data being collected and used, whether before or after an ad is delivered, is clearly communicated to the consumer.

So let’s be CLEAR*: We should expect to see an advertising option icon on almost every ad, even if that ad is not behaviorally targeted.

What about instances where there is absolutely no data being used or collected? Allowing for some notable exceptions (discussed in more detail below) shouldn’t that be communicated to the consumer as well?

Consider the USDA’s food label for a moment: As a consumer concerned about my health, I review labels to determine how many calories I am consuming. If you look at the USDA label on some diet soft drinks, you will see nothing but zeros because they have 0 sugar, 0 sodium, 0 fat, and therefore, 0 calories. So, why do they put the label on the can if there is nothing to report? The reason is that the presence of a “0” on the label provides useful information for the consumer. The absence of the label represents, well, zero information. In fact, I would be very suspicious of any beverage that had no USDA label. It’s this very suspicion that is pervasive among consumers in regards to online advertising.

For this same reason, it’s not enough to include the advertising option icon only when targeting is being used or cookies are being dropped. The ubiquitous presence of the advertising option icon will reassure consumers that, with one click, they can find the information they need about that ad and the industry players who served it, even if the message is, “This ad was not targeted.”

As Evidon has pointed out to the industry, it should be just as simple as reading the USDA Nutritional label: Click on the advertising option icon and instantly know:

  • Who served the ad
  • If the ad was served using behavioral targeting
  • If the ad is collecting data for future usage
  • Where to go for more information about the industry




There will be some exceptions to this general rule, most notably, pharmaceutical ads and certain rich media and video formats, where the industry is still navigating implementation challenges. It is also true that the OBA principles don’t specifically mandate the omnipresence of the advertising option icon, but if we can make it easier and clearer for the consumer to understand the choices they have and make a decision, we all win: consumer, publisher, and advertiser.

In order to reach that winner’s circle, we all have to pitch in, not just the final party who serves the ad. Advertisers need to plan for the advertising option icon and think about how its presence (and placement!) will impact their overall creative and media plan strategy, as well as their own websites. Publishers and ad networks need to continue to be transparent with and respectful of consumer data. And we all must accept the ubiquitous-ness of the icon on every ad.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post in which we’ll highlight some tactical plans for delivering an easier and clearer choice—and decision—mechanism for consumers.

* CLEAR = Control Links for Education and Advertising Responsibly

About the Author

sp_sullivan_steve.jpgSteve Sullivan

Steve Sullivan is VP of Advertising Technology at the IAB. You can follow him on Twitter @stevesullivan32.


When one considers the current economic climate, there is little doubt we are becoming a global community defined by constant connectivity and ultra-convenience. Mobile devices are a major factor in this as they are now ubiquitous and one’s device fulfils a multitude of requirements, connecting them to a plethora of information and facilitating all types of interactions. Mobile marketing and more specifically, mobile barcodes play a pivotal role in this new world of enhanced communications and on-demand information.

As the IAB’s Mobile Buyer’s Guide points out, mobile barcodes are an important way of activating traditional media, furthermore they can help boost sales, increase customer engagement, build brand loyalty, and educate an audience. These small black and white squares, reminiscent of ink blots, represent a great opportunity for marketers to bring traditionally static marketing and advertising to life so brands can instantly engage with their target audience. For example, adding a mobile barcode to a print or outdoor advertisement, on pack or at shelf that links to a discount, sweepstakes or provides additional information on a product or service provides an opportunity for the brand to engage with their target consumers 24/7/365.  However, to ensure success, the marketers integrating mobile barcodes into their strategies should be mindful of best practices, ensuring that consumers have high quality experiences, conducive to repeat interactions. This positive experience will ultimately lead to increased consumer engagement and customer loyalty, improve ROI and make a significant difference to a brand’s bottom line.

NeoMedia has developed best practices focused on the successful introduction of mobile barcode campaigns globally, to help brand owners and agencies leverage the use of mobile barcodes to ensure the success of all of their mobile barcode initiatives. You can quickly access the best practices on your smartphone by scanning the mobile barcode below using your preferred QR code reader.

Need a mobile barcode reader? Go to get.neoreader.com on your phone

Here are some additional tips to use when planning your next campaign:

1. Think Holistically

Integrate mobile barcodes into all digital and traditional media to maximize the consumer experience, dialogue and interactivity, ensuring mobile barcodes are planned as a part of the holistic campaign and not simply an afterthought.

2. Think Value and Ease of Use

Consider content that will compel the consumer to interact with your code, a la giveaways, discounts, free tickets and exclusive access. If your code simply offers the customer a chance to view a TV advertisement or link to a website, it may not achieve the results that you desire. Scanning a barcode should provide the consumer with a brand experience that is exclusive, dynamic and interactive - encouraging them to interact with you again.

It is also important to consider where a mobile barcode is located on the ad. Consumers must be able to find it easily and scan it quickly. For outdoor ads, place the code at eye or arm-level. In a print ad, the barcode should not fall over a fold.  Be sure to leave some white space around the code and use a minimum of 1 x 1-inch print specification. For TV or cinema, the code should remain onscreen long enough for the viewer to launch the scanning application and scan the code - a minimum of 15 seconds.

3. Think Reach

Branded or custom QR codes are certainly appealing, but it’s also important to create a code everyone can recognize and easily scan. Producing your code in black and white will increase the number of phones and code readers that can scan it. Also, ensure you use global, open standards (i.e. QR or Datamatrix) to achieve broadest customer reach and maximum impact for your brand.

4. Think Context and Environment

Remember that the consumer who has just scanned your code is mobile. They will be viewing the brand content on a mobile screen and are likely on the go, therefore expecting instant results. Make sure the barcode links through to a mobile-optimized site rather a PC-designed site. Remember that codes that don’t resolve content properly, go nowhere, or deliver the wrong information are the equivalent of a slammed door - the consumer may not try again.

Test the barcode for functionality across a variety of devices and scanner applications before launching. It’s important, especially because the consumers that scan codes are likely tech-savvy and vocal - the kind of consumers you want as brand loyalists.

5. Think ROI

Whatever the campaign, be sure to define goals before integrating a mobile barcode and choose a provider who will enable you to monitor the campaign via a managed barcode management platform.

Mobile barcodes offer an easy means to unlock a relevant, dynamic and interactive experience for consumers. And mobile barcodes are already gaining traction with many high profile brands as marketers begin to realize their value. Indeed, the uses of mobile barcodes are almost limitless, but to ensure consumers continue to interact with mobile barcodes well into the future they must have a positive experience. Essentially, to give your marketing campaign the best chance of success, use mobile barcodes and follow best practice advice!

NeoMedia will be to working with the IAB Mobile Center in the coming year to further educate the market about the best ways to accelerate their member’s mobile barcode efforts. For more info on NeoMedia, visit us at http://www.neom.com.

About the Author


Laura Marriott

Laura Marriott is a member of the IAB Mobile Advertising Committee and CEO of NeoMedia Technologies,Inc.. You can follow her on Twitter @kanadawomaninus and @NeoMediaInc.