Forming a More Perfect MRAID

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The 4th of July fireworks were doubly celebratory for me this year, celebrating Independence Day of course, but also the completion of a new compliance test for the IAB’s MRAID specification.  This is a major MRAID milestone, and I’m very happy to announce that the final version of the compliance test is officially live as of today.

MRAID has been one of the key ongoing initiatives of the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence since we started it over three years ago. The IAB created MRAID in order to help mobile rich media advertising scale more successfully, by simplifying and standardizing the application programming interface (“API”) “language” that ads use to communicate with the apps that run them.fireworks.jpg

The MRAID project solves a clear and distinct industry need, and adoption of MRAID throughout the industry has been gratifying.  However, as adoption grew the IAB working group overseeing MRAID realized that the standard had several adolescent growing pains that threatened to prevent it from living up to its full potential. 

Over the past several months, the MRAID Working Group has taken four concrete steps to address those growing pains.  I’d like to review them here.

Finalize the Compliance Test for MRAID v2.  Today the IAB has released a final version of the compliance test for MRAID v2.  This test consists of six well-documented test ads developed by the IAB’s MRAID Working Group as “canonical,” correct ads that collectively test every important MRAID v2 feature or requirement.  Where previously the IAB had to take vendors claiming MRAID v2 compliance at their word, the new test establishes an objective bar for any would-be compliant solution. 

To earn the MRAID v2 compliance seal, a vendor must now attest that it has successfully run all six of these test ads, and that the ads behaved fully in keeping with the checklists outlined in the documentation.  The test ads also establish models that creative designers can look at for insights into how to write MRAID ads.  More information on the MRAID compliance program is here. 

Launch an Web-Based MRAID Creative Tester.  Ad designers have long needed a way to make sure that MRAID ads they have developed actually use the MRAID APIs correctly.  To address that the IAB has been overseeing the development of a basic, web-based tester for MRAID ads, which is available at webtester.mraid.org. This open source project helps ad creators ensure that they’ve implemented MRAID correctly in their ads. 

Of course, while this basic test can identify errors in using MRAID, ad creators should still also QA test MRAID ads with the actual apps/SDKs/devices that will be running them.  But if an ad runs correctly in the web tester, that’s a strong indication that it will run correctly elsewhere as well.

Take a Stand on Technical Standards Convergence.  In May, the IAB released a perspective paper on the topic of the interoperability of the various standards we have established to simplify the creation of rich ads.  These include MRAID for ads in mobile applications, SafeFrame for the web, and the VSuite (VAST, VPAID, and VMAP) for video ads.  This document, “Choosing Between VPAID, MRAID, and SafeFrame,” establishes our goals and priorities for vendors and ad creators who increasingly want or need to use these specs in tandem with one another.

Publish Best Practices for the MRAID Ecosystem.  Growing MRAID adoption has been great, but there has long been a need for guidance on using MRAID above and beyond the specification itself.  We addressed that with the MRAID Best Practices we released in April and just updated today.  This document provides clarification on ambiguous points in the MRAID spec, and underscores important MRAID requirements that some ad designers and vendors have overlooked.  We view it as a vital complement to the MRAID spec itself.

The MRAID project has achieved much over its lifespan and with these new developments we are locked on a course to ensure that MRAID continues to help the industry for years to come.  I’m very grateful to the many IAB members who have generously supported the MRAID project with their time and expertise.


About the Author

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Joe Laszlo

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

 

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