The IAB’s standardized interfaces for rich ads—Video Suite
(VAST, VPAID and VMAP), MRAID
, and SafeFrame
—are among our most important contributions to enabling engaging, dynamic advertising to scale. In three different ad environments, these technical specifications standardize communication between the ad creative and the systems that host the content. In a video player, the player must be able to understand and process the ad’s requests to operate smoothly (VPAID). For mobile in-app ads, the mobile app must be programmed to recognize the ad’s requests (MRAID). In a webpage where the ad runs in an iframe, a line of communication is needed between the page and the iframe (SafeFrame).
The three specifications IAB and our members have developed to standardize these communications have significantly reduced the friction associated with buying and selling advertising in web, mobile, and video environments.
However, there’s a challenge. Each of the three IAB specs was designed for a distinct scenario, and we live in a world where those scenarios are increasingly blurring together. Companies are increasingly dealing with the convergence of these standards, asking questions like:
- How can VPAID and MRAID best be used together?
- While MRAID was developed for in-app experiences, what about browser-based apps?
- Should SafeFrame be the sole solution for browser-based experiences?
To formulate a game plan for addressing this convergence, IAB assembled leaders from each of the three standards efforts, along with relevant IAB staff, to publish a perspective on the challenges of bringing these standards into harmony with one another
. This document includes an overview of the specifications, the challenges we’re hearing about from the industry, and an overview of next steps IAB intends to take. Over the long-term, there’s no question that we should place VPAID, SafeFrame, and MRAID on a convergence path. But that’s necessarily going to be a lengthy process.
In the short and medium term, we are talking with industry representatives about how to formulate best practices for working effectively with these specs, notably combining VPAID and MRAID, and other best practices as industry need warrants. We encourage interested members to get involved as we make sure MRAID, VPAID, and SafeFrame stay relevant and valuable in a rapidly evolving—and converging—digital advertising world.
About the Author
Joe Laszlo is Senior Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.