March 2014 Archives

After 18 months of intense debate and hard work by hundreds of people throughout the ecosystem, we have a standard for viewable display impressions: a minimum of 50 percent of pixels in view for a minimum of 1 second. Moreover, today the MRC has lifted its November 2012 Viewable Impression Advisory for Display Advertising, greenlighting the commencement of transactions on viewable impression currency. And, we now know that with MRC guidance, measurement of viewability across vendors can have a narrow variance of plus or minus 5-10 percent.

The industry needs to wait a bit longer for viewable when it comes to video. For viewable in-browser video impressions, the MRC is advising a gating period through June 30, 2014 before trading. In-browser video viewability is defined as: a minimum of 50 percent in view for a minimum of 2 seconds.

What does this mean? Practically speaking, it means that—as of today—for brand advertising, agencies can and will expect guarantees on viewable display impressions, with video to come soon after. This means that one of the major obstacles to being included in brand allocations has finally been removed. The devaluation of below-the-fold impressions has been forever banished!  Every seller ready to implement should be shouting loudly, “a display ad impression now provides an ‘opportunity to see,’ just like other media!”

Publishers who have been testing display viewability data know all too well that the investment in resources is substantial. You need to finance purchase of data from multiple measurement vendors, assign the right teams of people to develop test parameters, conduct enough comparisons so that you have an idea of how to forecast inventory and optimize yield. Even if all the steps are executed well, you are likely seeing variances across vendors. Some of the variances may be greater than what you’d need for confidence in the decisions you need to make.

3MS Logo.jpgIn an effort to better understand the variances at hand, the MRC has released the findings of its Reconciliation Study. The Reconciliation Study is of paramount importance to the entire ecosystem as we implement viewability. The study examines the variances across viewability measurements by 11 MRC accredited vendors. The findings from the MRC illuminate the reasons for discrepancies across vendor viewability measurement and provide clear guidance on what needs to be done to diminish variance.

The good news is that MRC expects that the variances can be narrowed to plus or minus 5-10 percent across vendors. And, additionally on the good news front: the MRC is requiring that vendors adapt their methods within 60 days.

I know there is still confusion as to why the MRC audited viewability vendors leading up to this big moment.  None of this mission critical work could have been completed without first auditing the 11 accredited vendors.  You can’t fix the engine without getting under the hood. And, MRC has done that and then some!

Currency change typically brings benefits to an economy.  And, it brings initial dislocation. Business process change brings more work and new pain points until the change is institutionalized.  At this juncture, no one has all the answers.  And, no one wants to minimize the legitimacy of the discomfort—particularly on the part of publishers.

There are some realities that publishers must face, particularly those who thought the MRC Advisory would not lift and/or those who did not or could not test and evaluate:

  • Reality #1 is that measurement of viewability was already in market before 3MS and without a cross-ecosystem process like 3MS, there would have been complete chaos in how the data affected transactions.

  • Reality #2 is that publishers cannot compete for brand dollars on a level playing field if they cannot guarantee viewable impressions. 

  • Reality #3 is that without viewable impressions, every time a publisher does a brand impact study, the online scores are lower than they would be if the denominator was viewable, not served impressions. Something no one sees has no brand impact.

As we stand on the threshold of historical change, what does the crystal ball indicate?  (Please do bear in mind that crystal balls are sometimes foggy.)

The change will be difficult. Some publishers will be winners right out of the box, garnering higher CPM’s and/or better shares of buys. Some publishers will need time to recoup investments in the new currency. Some publishers will need to accelerate their involvement in this because they have not yet done so. Most of us will feel some pressure. The agencies will encounter some similar growing pains. No matter how much we’ve tested already, small and maybe not so small hidden discoveries await us. We’ll need to be nimble and adjust for the surprises. Ultimately, supply should shrink and inventory value should increase.

What is the IAB doing to support our members?

We created an easy to digest FAQ that offers pointers on adapting to the new currency.

We are developing a series of learning sessions on viewability implementation, hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves meetings to review what publishers and agencies are doing and what still needs to be done. We will cover lessons learned and lessons still to be learned. Our first session will take place in the IAB Ad Lab on April 9. Register for the 3MS Educational Forum on Display Viewability Challenges and Solutions of Implementation.

Along with the 4A’s, we will be convening a task force to write additional clauses to T’s+C’s in order to assure that buy and sell-side have a useful document that minimizes supply chain friction that could be caused without the new clauses.

The MRC, the IAB staff, especially those involved in 3MS, are here to learn from you and with you and to find answers to the questions we’ve yet to uncover.

Happy selling!

About the Author


Sherrill Mane

Sherrill Mane is SVP, Research, Analytics and Measurement, at the IAB.

In case you haven’t heard - we here at the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence are on the charge to Make Mobile Work this year. Based on our research last year around marketer perceptions of mobile and roadblocks to broader adoption of mobile advertising we’re setting out to show brands and agencies how to overcome these issues (both real and perceived) and start engaging with audiences on all of their devices. 

Our first webinar took place last Tuesday, March 18 and was all about discovering the power of HTML5 to create superior mobile ad creative. More than 150 marketers, agency buyers and publishers joined in to hear the IAB, AOL and Google discuss the importance of mobile advertising and steps to get started using HTML5. The webinar showed the power of HTML5, increased engagement of these ads and a walk through of how one brand started down the path to adjust from a Flash-only strategy. You can view the webinar and accompanying materials here as well as explore upcoming sessions on Make Mobile Work.

To keep the conversation going, Mollie Spilman, EVP Global Sales & Operations at Millennial Media, one of the original signatories of our Open Letter to Marketers, shared the following findings:

Millennial Media HTML5 Report
Through the use of rich media, agencies and brands are creating clear, meaningful experiences for their audiences. They’re going beyond the banner to leverage unique features such as gamification, swipe galleries, voice recognition, video, and more - and seeing the benefits in spades. 

In our latest Millennial Media S.M.A.R.T., we report on the impact rich media and video ads have on click-through rate (CTR) vs. standard banners. Automotive rich media and video ads, for example, saw an average of 3.5 times the CTR of standard banners. We’ve found that automotive advertisers often use video in their campaigns to show in-action driving, or dynamic ads that allow a consumer to swipe through different vehicle models or colors. Rich media and video ads run by education advertisers also saw 3.5 times greater CTR than standard banners. These brands incorporate animation, short quizzes, and video to get consumers thinking about their learning needs and resulting careers. Similarly, consumer goods’ rich media and video ads saw an average of 2.6 times the CTR compared to standard banner ads. Consumer goods advertisers tend to use video and interactive games to drive brand awareness.

EY (Formerly Ernst & Young) is one company taking its brand awareness to the next level through rich media. In an effort to stay top of mind for - and appeal to - business and accounting majors interested in post-grad entry level positions, EY tapped Millennial Media and Mediahub/Mullen to craft an interactive, highly-targeted campaign. The creative teams collaborated on a strategy to take the main pillar of EY’s campaign, “Amazing from every angle,” and turn the messaging into an engaging experience that allowed mobile users to choose from a selection of origami figures and create them virtually through their smartphones’ touch screen. To ensure the creative reached the most relevant audience, Millennial Media also added deployed geo-location targeting capabilities to pinpoint, within two miles, the 57 pre-selected university campuses.
Rich media capabilities will continue to evolve as mobile devices evolve - but don’t wait! Creative teams are pushing the limits of mobile, much to the benefit and satisfaction of advertisers and consumers. 

About the Authors

sp_smith_belinda_100x134.jpgBelinda J. Smith

Belinda J. Smith is Senior Manager of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the Interactive Advertising Bureau

Mollie Spilman_Millennial Media.jpgMollie Spilman

Mollie Spilman is EVP of Global Sales & Operations at Millennial Media


No longer will the two largest economies in the world build brands as though they’re worlds apart. Just as Sony established the cachet of electronics “Made in Japan” in the early 1970s with the introduction of the Emmy-winning Trinitron color television, and Hyundai paved the way for South Korean brands in the mid-80s, Chinese brand names are poised soon to hit the mainstream U.S. market and will change what it means for something to be “Made in China.” Similarly, a wider array of U.S. brands will make inroads into the People’s Republic of China. Western brands and Chinese brands will comingle, here and there. Lenovo was just the start. A full-fledged competitive and mutually beneficial relationship will be formed.


While this new cross-border economic reality has been among the aspirations of Chinese brands and non-Chinese brands for quite some time—93 Chinese companies are listed on the NASDAQ and the South China Morning Post reports 30 more Chinese companies could list on U.S.-based exchanges this year—it is, perhaps, closest to fruition for digital media companies. Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant which is also preparing for an American IPO, likely on the New York Stock Exchange, recently announced that two of its U.S. subsidiaries are coming together to introduce a new ecommerce site for fashion and jewelry called “11 Main.” The name brings to mind the address of a store in a Middle American town center, not a Chinese-owned brand.

However, a meat-and-potatoes brand name hasn’t been required for Chinese brands to make inroads. sees more monthly traffic from the U.S. than household names like,, and, among many other recognizable names, according to Alexa. And Alibaba isn’t alone., the Chinese search engine, attracts more U.S. traffic than the online home of ABC News and, the portal for a Chinese messaging service owned by Tencent, is more popular than,, and, San Francisco’s daily newspaper site. Taking a broader view than just what’s happening in the U.S. shows us that, as of this writing, is ranked by Alexa 27th in the world, and is 13th in the world.

While these developments here and abroad are taking place largely outside the perceptions of many mainstream U.S. media consumers—and even media companies—the growing prevalence of these sites is an indicator of things to come. Large American publishers should not be surprised to see competitive pressure from the Chinese. Rather, they should be prepared for it.

Just as Chinese-owned digital media have wedged into the U.S. market, many U.S.-based sites generate significant traffic in the People’s Republic., for example, is the 40th most popular site in China, with coming in at 54, and ranking 60, according to Alexa. Non-Chinese companies have long aspired to expand into the Chinese marketplace, and the ubiquity and expansion of digital media and technology there makes that easier than ever before: 618 million people use the web in China, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, and there are 1.24 billion mobile users in China, reports the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China. Moreover, figures from the Interactive Internet Advertising Committee of China (IIACC) put online advertising revenues in the People’s Republic of China for 2013 at 63.9 billion, approximately $10.3 billion, up nearly 49 percent over 2012.

To help this burgeoning relationship and marketplace continue to grow and mature, IAB announced recently the launch of IAB China, the 42nd formal licensing of the IAB brand, this time to the IIACC, an organization that has worked with IAB for many years to make progress on shared objectives. IAB, founded and headquartered in New York, has established through licenses an international network of IABs, in the Asia Pacific region, Europe, Africa, South America and North America, that work collaboratively toward the same goal: to build a sustainable global digital marketing and media marketplace. This international intention clearly aligns to the new IAB mission statement: IAB empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy.

We believe our joint efforts will help provide Chinese companies with greater access to the U.S., and offer ambitious businesses around the world the chance to navigate better the complexities and opportunities of the Chinese marketplace.

One of the principal ways we expect to help each other grow is by enabling Chinese media owners to leverage already cross-border IAB technical standards and guidelines. This advancement would benefit both Chinese and non-Chinese companies alike, empowering publishers to scale their platforms and brands to scale their advertising across China and across the world more easily.

If we can build a seamless and trustworthy global digital advertising economy, competition will be on an international scale for sure, and navigating cultural differences and technological proclivities would still be substantial, but the rewards promise to be exponentially larger than those we can reap now.

About the Author

sp_doty_david.jpgDavid Doty

David Doty is EVP, CMO & Head of International at the Interactive Advertising Bureau


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
  • 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 results.

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

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


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IAB Launches the Programmatic Council to a Packed House

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Last Thursday, IAB officially launched the brand new Programmatic Council at the Ad Lab in New York City. More than 160 professionals from across the programmatic ecosystem joined in person or remotely.  


The Programmatic Council aims to bring together publishers, buyers and ad technology providers to discuss the key business issues in the evolving programmatic marketplace. The focus of this Council will be to identify and tackle what is working and what can be improved to make programmatic work more effectively. The Council is the successor to the Networks and Exchanges Committee. It will build on the work done by the Programmatic Publishers Task Force who published three Digital Simplified pieces in 2013 on terminology, salesforce models and the need for transparency.

The Council agreed to focus on the full spectrum of Programmatic transactions - from Automated Guaranteed transactions (sometimes known as Programmatic Direct) through to the Open Auction.

Building on the agenda set by the Programmatic discussions at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Springs last month, the Council agreed to focus on four key issues over the coming year:

1) Building a transparent & fair marketplace - aim to come to a common agreement between buyers, sellers and vendors on what transparency means in an auction environment and agree how to achieve that.
2) Marketplace education and training - build understanding for both direct sellers and media planners, create training for C-suite executives, link to sales certification and create a common curriculum for companies to use.
3) Standardization of definitions, terminology, and best practices - start with updating existing terminology piece to incorporate buyer/ad tech inputs, and then look to create a comprehensive mapping of programmatic ecosystem including roles and definitions.
4) Making Programmatic work for brands - engage brand managers & CMOs, enable selling of new formats, build better brand metrics and make data more compelling.

The IAB will be creating working groups on each of these topics with representatives from across the ecosystem including buyers, sellers and ad technology providers. Members agreed concrete deliverables for the next 12 months for each of these four priority areas. In addition the Council identified a number of areas where this group would need to work closely with other initiatives including on trust and quality issues, data use and standards, technical standards, and video/audio committees. 

About the Author

Carl Kalapesi, Director Industry Initiatives, IAB 
Reach him via email [email protected] or Twitter @carlkalapesi

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Successful Strategies For Using Mobile Location Data

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Most marketers acknowledge that as mobile devices continue to become extensions of the individual, the opportunity to deliver highly relevant and personal advertising is tremendous. The power of the mobile format is further enhanced through location data; an indispensable tool for reaching consumers at the exact moment of need and the heart of most mobile advertising conversations. 

In many respects, location is the new cookie in digital advertising currency, and understanding how location data can be best applied in marketing and media capacities is the key to unlocking the targeting value of mobile. 

Media agencies and marketers can now confidently assert a general awareness of the different types of mobile location data available; however, many may be overwhelmed by the broad range of names, terms and definitions used to describe varying mobile location tactics and the associated technologies they employ. With a bevy of tactical approaches out there, it can be challenging to understand how one geo-focused targeting strategy differs from another. Furthermore, industry professionals will often use the names of different geo targeting tactics interchangeably, exacerbating the muddied waters that encompass mobile location.


For those seeking practical use cases for running successful locally targeted campaigns across mobile devices - including smartphone and tablets - The IAB’s Mobile Location targeting Working Group has assembled a paper, available at Clear, concise descriptions are included to help easily decipher what separates one location technology from another. 

The paper offers case studies with actual campaigns as in-depth examples of how marketers are successfully capitalizing on local targeting and location data to increase the effectiveness of their mobile marketing campaigns. These detailed examples bring clarity to how various types of location data when uniquely employed can help a brand or advertiser achieve their custom campaign goals. 

As we head into the promise of a truly “cross-platform” digital advertising world, location will only become more important, especially in light of the impressive amount of connected devices coming into the market. Marketers and agencies alike should become familiar with the various location data sources and their uses.

About the Authors

Peter Weingard and Noor Naseer are co-chairs of the Mobile Local Targeting Working Group, part of the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence. To learn more about the Mobile Center visit

Peter Weingard
VP, Marketing, City Eats
Co-Chair, IAB Mobile Local Committee

Noor Naseer
Manager, Mobile, Centro
Co-Chair, IAB Mobile Local Committee


So Why Aren’t You Supporting SafeFrame?

Last year, IAB issued an industry-wide call to replace all iFrames used in digital advertising with SafeFrames. We did so, fully understanding the enormity of the work that would be required of publishers to re-tag an estimated 60% of the Internet—not a trivial task. SafeFrame is a new ad serving technology standard developed to enhance in-vivo communication between digital ads and the publisher pages where those ads are displayed, all while maintaining strict security controls.  As we approach the one year anniversary of SafeFrame’s release (March 19th) I think it’s fair to state that, while industry adoption is chugging along, it could be better. SafeFrame_Link_new.jpg

One notable early adopter of SafeFrame is Yahoo. Today a majority of Yahoo’s display advertising inventory is served in SafeFrames (that’s billions of impressions every day!) - and Yahoo is actively pushing towards a 100% deployment goal. To be fair to those still in the process of implementing SafeFrame, Yahoo co-led the industry initiative, along with Microsoft and IAB, to make SafeFrame an advertising standard. Nevertheless, to call Yahoo’s contribution to SafeFrame notable is really an understatement.

Since its release last year, a working group at IAB has been focused on tearing down barriers to SafeFrame adoption. The most cited of which has been the need for support by rich media vendors—an understandable barrier to those who comprehend the technical underpinnings of the digital supply chain. We realized early on that we were in a chicken-and-egg conundrum with respect to SafeFrame adoption—without dedicated support from rich media vendors, who package ad creative for trafficking across a variety of publisher sites, neither advertisers nor publishers would be particularly incented to adopt SafeFrame.

Yahoo stepped up to help the industry address the SafeFrame adoption challenge. Yahoo worked closely with top rich media vendors to get SafeFrame off the sidelines and into production environments globally. As a result of Yahoo’s leadership and efforts, 23 rich media vendors now support SafeFrame (see list of vendors.)

With this significant barrier removed, it’s time for those who have been on the sidelines to take action. And with Google’s update to DFP due to support SafeFrame in the first half of 2014, there should be no doubt that this new technology standard is here to stay.

Finally, what most people don’t know about SafeFrame: it’s not just about viewable impressions. Sure, SafeFrame provides publishers, marketers and third-party ad verification services a simple, transparent, standards-based and cost-free API for determining an ad’s viewability state. And with all the deserved attention 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense) has brought to viewable this past year, it’s no wonder that folks have honed in on this key feature of SafeFrame. So, while SafeFrame helps to solve for viewability measurement, it can do so much more.  

Think of SafeFrame as an extensible technology platform that can be used to solve for many issues confronting our digital supply chain. To name a few, SafeFrame already supports programmatic sale of expanding rich media, sharing of metadata, enhanced consumer security and privacy controls, enhanced publisher security and the prevention of cookie bombing. With more SafeFrame features currently in the development pipeline, we see SafeFrame as a base standard that will be extended in ways we have yet to conceive. Simply stated, SafeFrame is the new container tag for digital advertising: it solves many of the digital supply chain issues we face today as digital advertisers and publishers, and is extensible to solve tomorrow’s problems too.

To learn more about why your company should be supporting SafeFrame, we’ve made it simple, with easy to understand educational materials for the marketplace, including an educational video, a feature comparison chart of ad trafficking methods, and an extensive FAQ.  

For questions involving SafeFrame or how to get involved with SafeFrame initiatives at IAB please reach out to Alan Turransky.

About the Author


Chris Mejia, former Sr. Director of Ad Technology at IAB