IAB and the Future of the Cookie: Evolving to meet Market Realities

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A few years ago, the demise of the cookie was the chief worry on everyone’s mind. Marketers, agencies and publishers all struggled to imagine a future where they were able to continue delivering the seamless, connected experiences (that consumers have come to expect) in a world where the core technology supporting these strategies (the cookie) no longer existed. 

In 2012 the IAB formed the Future of the Cookie Working Group to address these issues - adding to them, the context of consumer privacy, publisher control, and other principles. 

In the “Privacy and Tracking in a Post-Cookie World” whitepaper, the group established five technology classes that described existing and emerging state management technologies, and evaluated their impact on consumers, publishers, and other industry participants. Thanks in part to the important work of this group, industry adoption and comfort with a variety of state management technologies, including the cookie, has become the norm.  

As we look ahead to 2015 and the current discussion and needs of the market, two main streams of work remain. In response to this and our members’ needs, the IAB is sun setting the Future of the Cookie Working Group to tackle these two streams of work more efficiently:  

1.  Data

Now that buyers and sellers have become more familiar with cookie-replacement technologies, and many are choosing to create their own proprietary solutions, a larger business and process discussion about audience engagement and the usage of audience data has emerged. Where the need was previously to understand the available technology choices, now many in the market are focused on gaining clarity around the new techniques, and best practices, for use and control of audience data in this developing cross-platform landscape. Including, but not limited to, the use of audience identifiers - the IAB’s Data Council will be home to continued discussions and guidance for how we can all be good data stewards. This will undoubtedly include timely issues such as data quality, protection, control and using data to inform an overall digital strategy. 

2.  Technology

Understanding the available technology has been a core effort of the Future of the Cookie working group.  With the IAB Tech Lab, we have a natural forum for continued evaluation of state management technologies, and the opportunity to bring together technical experts to develop resources and guidance for implementation.  

The IAB Tech Lab spearheads the development of technical specifications, creates and maintains a code library to assist in rapid, cost-effective implementation of IAB specifications and guidelines, and establishes a test platform for companies to evaluate the compatibility of their technology solutions with IAB protocols.   

As we move forward, these two groups will address the breadth of technologies that are available for understanding audience behavior and continue to provide guidance and leadership in those realms. So with that, we would like to extend a sincere and hearty “THANK YOU” to the more than 200 individuals, companies, members and non-members who contributed to the Future of the Cookie initiative. Also worth some praise are our stellar initial cast of co-chairs who truly contributed blood, sweat, and more acronyms than we can mention here:

  • Jordan Mitchell, VP Product, Rubicon
  • Amy Kuznicki, Associate Director, Verizon
  • Susan Pierce, Engineering Manager, Google
  • Matt Tengler, SVP Product, Millennial Media
  • Phillip Smolin, SVP Market Solutions, TURN

About the Authors

Anna Bager

Anna Bager

Anna Bager is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the IAB. You can tweet her @AnnaBager.


Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham is Vice President of Technology and Ad Operations at the Interactive Advertising Bureau

Forging the path to Data Demystification

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Data had a landmark year in 2014. This year we saw everyone get interested in data. Brands, agencies, publishers, automakers, consumers, legislators and even the Supreme Court was fixated on issues surrounding digital data. Most of these issues centered on the data captured, stored and shared by our mobile phones. 

As the device that goes everywhere with us throughout the day, the industry is now just starting to realize the immense data opportunities created by Mobile. On the revenue side, Mobile continued its unhindered ascension to digital dominance. The IAB half-year ad revenue numbers showed Mobile revenues increased 71% in 1H14 capturing 24% of total internet revenues or a total of $2.8B in ad spend.  

With this continued monumental shift to Mobile comes an ever-growing list of terms, acronyms and the confusion that accompanies any nascent industry. We at the IAB are no strangers to helping supply the tools to enable nascent markets to grow. Our Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence was started four years ago with the sole purpose of growing Mobile budgets and today we have taken another leap towards facilitating that goal. 

I’m excited to announce the release of the IAB’s Mobile Data Primer - a companion document to our updated Data Primer released in 2013. This Mobile Data Primer marks an important step in helping us coalesce, as an industry, around the data opportunities, classifications and use cases available in the Mobile Advertising Market. It also provides important Mobile data best practices and an updated code of conduct. 

Beyond providing clarity and transparency, our aim is for this primer to be used as a foundation that will enable deeper conversations around the Mobile data opportunity in the coming year. Now that we have a common knowledge base, we can explore more sophisticated use cases and can leverage Mobile data as part of an overall marketing automation strategy to inform better messaging and creative, and foster deeper consumer relationships. 

I would like to thank the IAB’s Data Council for their continued work to help truly demystify data for the digital industry, and also for their leadership in the creation of this primer. We are excited to continue these conversations as data maintains center stage in the coming years. 

About the Author

headshot.jpgBelinda J. Smith

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

Mobile Discrepancies: Getting to the Same Count

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This has truly been a progressive year for mobile. Marketer budgets continue to grow as we continue to chart new territory through the use of interactive creative formats, enhanced audience and targeting capabilities and more reliable measurement. One thing that continues to be of discussion as the mobile platform accelerates is how we agree on the ways in which we serve, count and transact on impressions. Namely - the issue of mobile discrepancies. 

Discrepancies are not anything new to digital advertising. These still occur on desktop, and IAB guidance is that players in the ad serving process should be able to manage to a 10% discrepancy rate between the parties counting. In mobile, however, we have not yet achieved a predictable, or reliably low, discrepancy rate.

This year, the Mobile Ad Ops working group continued its investigation into mobile discrepancies in an effort to continue to provide guidance to the market on how to properly manage discrepancies in the mobile environment. In the updated paper - Mobile Discrepancies 2.0 - you can read a review of the major causes of mobile discrepancies as well as extended guidance on how to manage, troubleshoot and prevent discrepancies in your campaigns. In addition to updated guidance, this year the group conducted a survey of 99 participants to better gauge how the industry is dealing with this issue. This year’s survey uncovered some interesting insights, worth sharing here. 

First, we had wide participation this year from every piece of the industry which was crucial in getting feedback from experts along all pieces of the ad serving chain:

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Additionally, while ads with rich media interactivity seemed to cause more discrepancies, many reported seeing high levels of discrepancies across almost all ad formats:

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Lastly, and perhaps most encouraging, is the fact that more stakeholders are coming to the table to help troubleshoot and investigate mobile discrepancies, with over 50% of respondents reporting they are able to get agencies involved in solving this issue:

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For more results from this year’s survey along with extended troubleshooting guidance and a review of the common causes of discrepancies, download this year’s whitepaper - Mobile Discrepancies 2.0.

About the Author

headshot.jpgBelinda J. Smith

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

Who are Mobile Gamers and Why Do They Matter?

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Mobile Gaming apps are the most popularly used mobile app type, according to the recently released IAB study “Mobile Gamers: Who They Are, How They Shop, and How to Reach Them” which is based on an IAB analysis of Prosper Insights data and represents the self-reported media behaviors of about 15,000 US adults 18 and older (A18+). Not only is Mobile Gaming the number one app type, but Mobile Gamers represent a substantial 37% of the US adult population. 
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Who are Mobile Gamers and why should marketers and digital publishers care? Mobile gamers are likely to be women (56% vs. 51%A18+), professionals (35% vs. 28%), higher earners ($68k vs. $62k) and purchase influencers (40% vs. 32%). They earn more, they spend more and they’re more likely than the general population to be planning both major and minor purchases. A full 16% are planning to buy an auto (vs. 12% A18+). Female mobile gamers are more likely to be planning a vacation (25% vs. 18%A18+) while male mobile gamers are more likely to be shopping for a new mobile device (17% vs. 10% A18+). This is a desirable audience.

But perhaps most important to digital publishers, Mobile Gamers are heavy mobile media users who can also be reached on digital media via their mobile devices. While male Mobile Gamers tend to be heavy gamers (74% play videogames during the week), female Mobile Gamers’ video gaming habits are more reflective of the general population (49% game during the week vs. 44% of A18+). Female Mobile Gamers are casual gamers and they spend their time online, taking in all forms of media on their computers and smartphones.

As heavy digital and mobile users, Mobile Gamers’ purchases are much more influenced by various forms of digital and mobile media than the general adult population, providing ample opportunities to reach them using these ad formats. Not only is this desirable audience more likely to watch online video (73% vs. 56% A18+) and mobile video (65% vs 41%A18+) but they’re also more likely to watch the video ads (62% vs 34%A18+) and even say that their Electronics (18% vs. 13%A18+) and Clothing (12% vs. 8%A18+) purchases are influenced by mobile video.  

Being digitally savvy and mobile focused, 94% of Mobile Gamers regularly research products online (vs. 89% A18+) and on their mobile devices before buying. Interestingly, the products they’re most likely to research (Electronics and Clothing) are also the ones that digital advertising is most likely to persuade them in, presenting an ideal environment to serve such ads. Internet ads and Email ads have more influence on them than Cable TV and nearly as much influence as Broadcast TV. One in three Mobile Gamers say their Electronics purchases are influenced by Internet Ads (vs. 24% A18+) or Email Ads (vs. 25% A18+). Female Mobile Gamers are heavier Social Media users and 23% admit that their clothing purchases are influenced by Social Media (vs. 13% A18+). Thus, ads served to them while researching products, whether online or in the store on their phones, will likely be rewarded.  

Mobile Gamers are more likely to own a smartphone (52%) than a desktop computer (45%) and they regularly showroom. They’re also much more likely than the general US adult population to make purchases using their mobile devices. While Mobile Gamers ‘showroom’ regularly, consisting mostly of reading product reviews and price checking, they most often end up buying the product in person at the store or at a competitor’s store. Interestingly, Mobile Gamers are more likely to both check email on their smartphones (90% vs 62%A18+) and to be influenced by email ads, providing another opportunity to reach them in store. Since they’re reachable on the go via mobile while in the stores, targeted ads, offers or email coupons during their shopping experience would likely sway their purchases. After they’ve left the store, many Mobile Gamers will buy the product online, offering a second chance for advertisers to reach them through digital media.

In summary, Mobile Gamers are a desirable audience that is planning to spend and they shop armed with a smartphone. As heavy mobile users, they are reachable online and are always connected. Their overall media consumption profile implies that a sequenced media mix to these Mobile Gamers could be effective. An ad on a mobile video game, followed by a targeted ad online while they’re researching the product, then followed up with an email offer or targeted in-store offer (for those who are reached by beacons) to catch them while they’re showrooming could win Mobile Gamers’ dollars. Digital and mobile ads are likely to influence Mobile Gamers’ purchases so intercepting their online activities with ads and offers is likely to pay off. A savvy marketing mix that makes good use of the variety of digital formats and mobile technologies could transform Angry Birds into Happy Marketers and Words With Friends to Advertisers With ROI.

About the Author


Kristina Sruoginis

Kristina Sruoginis is the Research Director at IAB.

Hispanic Millennials: Taking "Mobile First" to the Next Level

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Today we released “Hispanic Millennials and Mobile,” which looks at younger US Hispanic consumers through the lens of mobile—not just what they do with their devices but how they feel about them and how their smartphones impact their wider lives.

Pacific Ethnography conducted the research for us, which consisted of two phases:  a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews and home visits with Hispanic Millennials from across the country, followed by a survey to explore and quantify some of the findings.

Young Latino Americans are interesting not just because they are an increasingly important demographic group, but also because they serve as a leading indicator for mobile attitudes and behaviors that will become more widespread in the future.  The mobile-first lives this group leads today reflect the lives we all will be living in the very near future, as mobile-savviness diffuses ever more widely though the entire U.S. population.

For the IAB audience, the key finding was that Hispanic Millennials sometimes like and even welcome ads, as long as they are on their terms and their preferred timing—66% say they pay attention to at least some ads on their phone.  Moreover, email marketing communication is often seen as real communication, not as junk mail. And 21% of Hispanic Millennials say they’ve followed a brand on social media after seeing an ad (27% have done a search, and 23% have tapped/clicked on a mobile ad). 

As with other Millennials, Hispanic Millennials are extremely diverse, and take on different roles and personas depending on time and situation.  So it’s not enough for marketers to simply include Latinos in creative or run ads in Spanish to attract them—they have to be more sensitive and relevant than that to reach this media-savvy segment successfully.

In my early 20s, the Internet was still dial-up, and being “offline” was the usual way to be.  For this population segment, the mobile internet means the reverse is true—they are always online, unless they are asleep, visiting relatives outside the US without international roaming, or deliberately hiding.

The phrase “mobile first” has been thrown around a lot by marketers and media companies in the past few years, reflecting their efforts to design products, content, and services with phone screens in mind.  Millennials, and particularly Hispanic Millennials, are really mobile first—it’s not a business strategy, it’s a cultural and social shift.  Marketers that understand this will be well positioned to reap rewards as mobile internet adoption spreads.

About the Author


Joe Laszlo

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

- See more at: http://www.iab.net/iablog/2014/08/making-mobile-advertising-better.html#sthash.KXqTRHgU.dpuf

About the Author


Joe Laszlo

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

About the Author


Joe Laszlo

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

- See more at: http://www.iab.net/iablog/2014/08/making-mobile-advertising-better.html#sthash.KXqTRHgU.dpuf
About the Author


Joe Laszlo

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

- See more at: http://www.iab.net/iablog/2014/08/making-mobile-advertising-better.html#sthash.KXqTRHgU.dpuf

Banner ads are the Mark Twain of the Internet: reports of their death are greatly exaggerated. So it is with Farhad Manjoo’s historically jejune and financially illiterate November 6 article, Fall of the Banner: The Monster That Swallowed the Web.

Curiously, Mr. Manjoo cites not a single statistic to support his thesis that “finally, the banner ad is in decline.” Perhaps that’s not so curious, for the facts tell a very different story. Since the 2002 introduction of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Universal Ad Package—the basic codification of banner ad formats—display advertising revenues have grown 460 percent, accounting for nearly $8 billion of the $43 billion spent on digital advertising in the United States in 2013.

In this entire period, during which the Internet grew to become the largest advertising medium in the U.S., display advertising  (of which banners are by far the dominant component) remained the single largest form of digital advertising other than search. When search advertising is deducted from marketer expenditures on digital advertising, banner-based display ads accounted for 32 percent of  Internet ad spending in 2013; in 2002, banners accounted for 33 percent of Internet ad spend.

Mr. Manjoo is doubly wrong when he says banner-based display advertising is “so ineffective,” and that’s why “banner ads are sold for low prices.” The pricing of display advertising, like the pricing of airline seats and coal, is a function of supply and demand. Average ad prices have declined in most media because the Internet’s low barriers to entry have generated an avalanche of new advertising inventory, in an economy where demand for advertising (measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product) has largely been stable since the 1920s, accounting for 1 percent to 1.4 percent of GDP, according to the Department of Commerce.  For this reason among others, banner ads are remarkably effective, providing five to six times the yield of direct mail—a major reason advertisers have transferred so much of their budgets to this supposed “declining” format.

Mr. Manjoo also, oddly, attributes unique privacy concerns to banner advertising. Yet as a technology reporter, surely he knows that all Internet communications—banner ads, social media posts, links in online newspaper articles—throw off data about user interests and interactions. So, for that matter, do telephone calls and cable television boxes. Yet only the digital advertising industry has developed a self-regulatory program, praised by the White House, the Commerce Department, and the Federal Trade Commission, that gives users control over the way their data is collected and used. The development of this self-regulatory program, the protections it offers, and the operating standards it provides industry have helped fuel the rise of “programmatic advertising”—the automated trading of Internet banner ads—in which 85 percent of advertisers currently are engaging, according to a study for the IAB by the Winterberry Group. So much for a declining ad format.

There’s a larger flaw in Mr. Manjoo’s analysis, however: his assumption that banner advertising is utterly distinct from all other forms of advertising, on the Internet or elsewhere. Banners are simply a format standard, no different than the advertising format standards that undergird other forms of media, such as the 30-second television commercial and the double truck magazine ad. Such standards exist to take complexity and cost out of an industry supply chain, allowing businesses to achieve scale efficiently. Some of the “native advertising” Mr. Manjoo lauds—known in the industry as “in-stream ads”—is simply a scalable banner format moved from the margins of a PC or mobile screen into its center, where it interrupts the content flow, exactly as television spots and magazine ads quite effectively do. Other forms of native advertising, such as the “content ads” for which Mr. Manjoo reserves special praise, are difficult to scale, because they are designed to mimic the design and conventions of a specific site. As anyone who has studied microeconomics knows, such customization passes costs up and down industry supply chains, and has the potential to limit companies’ profits.

The fact is, the digital advertising landscape is far more nuanced and sophisticated than Mr. Manjoo describes. Marketers today are using digital advertising to drive results across the entire purchase funnel, from creating new desire and demand with beautiful concept ads much as they have done with television for years; to deepening engagement via content-rich advertising;  and, finally, driving transactions with highly targeted “commerce ads,” of which banners are likely to remain the standard for a long while.

Farhad Manjoo has built a lengthy piece on a ridiculous premise: that banner advertising has facilitated “the web’s decline.” Since 2010, digital and mobile devices have increased their share of U.S. consumers’ media consumption to 47 percent from 29.6 percent, as television’s share has fallen to 36.5 percent from 41 percent, and print’s share of consumer attention has declined to 11 percent from 15 percent. Interactive media’s rise has been facilitated by one thing: the remarkable diversity of content available to satisfy any interest and every curiosity. For much of that content, advertising—including the still-resilient banner ad—foots the bill.

About the Author


Randall Rothenberg

Randall Rothenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer at IAB.

On October 23rd, thinkLA and IAB were thrilled to host a Programmatic Summit in Los Angeles, in association with eMarketer. Our first ever collaboration focused on the rising tide of programmatic within digital media. Over 500 brand marketers, media buyers, online publishers, ad networks, ad exchanges, and other solution providers came together to discuss and debate the next evolution of programmatic. 
Here are the top 10 takeaways from the event about programmatic:
  1. Programmatic is more than RTB. There is a lot of confusion over the term programmatic, which many people mistakenly believe is only real-time bidding (RTB) or used only for remnant inventory. Ultimately programmatic is the process of buying and selling media in an automated fashion. This includes four main types of transactions - open auctions, invitation-only/private auctions, unreserved fixed rate/preferred deals, and automated guaranteed/programmatic guaranteed deals. Every time someone says the word “programmatic” make sure you ask what exactly they mean. Watch this Digital Simplified video that explains how one part of programmatic, RTB, works step by step.
  2. Lots of challenges still exist to enable programmatic to work. Concerns that were addressed throughout the event included transparency, fraud, and trust; limited understanding and knowledge; confusion over terminology; moving from direct response to branding dollars, moving from mostly standard banners to native, video, rising stars, and audio ad formats; internal organizational challenges for brands and publishers; and delivering different creative through programmatic.
  3. Programmatic is big and getting bigger. The programmatic market (including auction, and direct deals) is expected to top $10B in 2014 and grow to $20B by 2016. For now, RTB remains the dominant part of programmatic spending (92% in 2014), but is expected to fall to under 60% of total programmatic spend by 2016 as programmatic direct increases. Within RTB, open auctions account for 88% of total RTB spend, though this is changing with private marketplaces growing significantly faster. While display is still dominant for now, mobile and video programmatic are growing fast.
  4. Fraud and trust are big issues, but are being tackled by the industry. Bots and fraud have become a big issue mainly due to the large sums of money involved. The IAB and the industry are building a trust stack to tackle fraud, malware, piracy, and transparency and include these in a joint cross-industry accountability program) building on the existing Quality Assurance Guidelines. Advertisers and buyers should make sure they know their supply sources, choose their vendors carefully, and always remember “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” Publishers need to ensure they are coordinating between sales, marketing, operations, and analytics to identify any strange traffic patterns and remember if they are doing audience extension they need to apply the same controls as buyers should.
  5. Publishers can hit a home run with programmatic video. The concern that programmatic has been perceived as a “race to the bottom” for rates and yield has not been the case in video due to restricted supply. Publishers can use programmatic to fund the creation of quality video content particularly by helping to monetize traffic spikes. Ultimately efficiency doesn’t have to mean lower CPMs; it can also mean more effective engagement.  
  6. Measurement matters even more in a programmatic world. Brand marketers are looking for transparency, inventory quality, and technology simplicity. Buyers should ensure they are reaching the right audience, use a consistent, comparable metric to plan, buy, and sell audiences, use brand data to ensure advertising resonates, and ultimately ensure that the campaign drives the desired action.
  7. Attribution is essential to effective programmatic spend. Last touch attribution is outdated and is like giving all the credit in a relay race to the last runner. Attribution models should incorporate the “first site visit” separating the funnel into prospecting and retargeting, and set the right incentives to each part.
  8. Brands in automotive are leveraging programmatic. Leading brands are looking beyond the simple retargeting of ads and embracing programmatic across the consumer path to purchase from unaware to loyal purchasers. The agency automation “stack” includes four layers - unified data platform, open access to media inventory, single metrics regime, and dynamic ad creation/production/serving platform. Brands are finally learning from programmatic media to employ new tactics in automated creative—not creating by machines, but optimizing ad variables based on real-time, impression level data.
  9. Publishers need to re-org to capture the value of programmatic. Publishers are adopting programmatic as a core part of their monetization strategy. However, this can pose internal challenges. The top five ways to build a successful programmatic publisher organization were the following: align incentives and compensation; educate direct sellers and have them attend Programmatic 101 training; programmatic team to focus on supporting direct sales (agencies) and covering programmatic buying entities (DSPs, trading desks, retargeters); establish a programmatic rate card; and have internal and external quarterly budget reviews.
  10. Creativity and programmatic are not enemies. Every ad should be dynamic and leverage the same audience signals used in programmatic media buying to make the creative relevant. This can be done by infusing first or third-party data on demographics, location, and previous website behavior to alter the headline call to action, image, or assets of the ad unit to ensure the message resonates with the user. Doing this can double yield on interaction rates and increase engagement by 50%. 

Historic Transatlantic Partnership for the Digital Ad Industry

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Today IAB US and IAB Europe join together to publish recommendations for promoting global trade and innovation as our respective governments negotiate a vital trade program. Titled “Modernizing Safe Harbor to Ensure Continued Growth in the Digital Economy”, we provide the industry’s first consensus policy position on data governance issues, and hope they can serve as guidance for ongoing negotiations between the US and Europe on the revision of the Safe Harbor framework.

The US and EU are among the world’s most vibrant digital advertising marketplaces, together representing $92 billion in annual revenue, or nearly 70% of the global industry, and maintaining equally significant market share in emerging categories such as mobile advertising.

The Safe Harbor framework has greatly contributed to the success of this marketplace by providing more than 4,000 businesses, including many IAB member companies, a means to transfer data across the Atlantic in a streamlined and cost-effective manner that ensures consumer protection.

As negotiators in the US and EU undertake the critically important task of reviewing the Safe Harbor framework, it is imperative that both sides seek to develop a more integrated transatlantic market for data flows to accelerate the growth of the digital economy. 

It is with this aim that IAB US and IAB Europe today announced principles for a modernized Safe Harbor framework to serve as guidance to US and EU negotiators on the digital advertising industry’s priorities. These principles call for a business environment that is conducive to innovation and economic growth, a balanced approach to economic growth and protection of personal data, increased legal certainty for companies, and coherence with US and EU laws. 

The principles also highlight the importance of US and EU trade negotiations that are currently underway as a means to furthering the success of the transatlantic digital economy for years to come.

IAB US and IAB Europe will continue to leverage the IAB Global Network to push for a workable framework that ensures the responsible flow of data between the world’s two largest digital marketplaces.

About the Authors

Randall New 2011.jpg
Randall Rothenberg

Randall Rothenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer, IAB

Townsend Feehan

Townsend Feehan is Chief Executive Officer, IAB Europe

For the past seven years, I have focused on the growth and adoption of Ad-ID. It started with a vision and now Ad-ID is the industry standard for the registration of advertising assets across all media platforms and is recognized as the uniform unique ad asset identifier. Yet, in an industry where data is ubiquitous, best practices and processes for asset identification were almost non-existent before the launch of Ad-ID. Now, embedded metadata in creative assets has taken center stage because of the significant benefits that extend far beyond the registration and identification of ads. 

There is no greater evidence of Ad-ID’s relevancy in the modern marketplace than the fireside chat that took place at the IAB’s recent MIXX conference between the ANA’s Bob Liodice, the 4A’s Nancy Hill, and the IAB’s Randall Rothenberg. They spoke about how Ad-ID is a key part of a framework for enhanced cross-platform interoperability, measurement, and operational efficiency. Ad-ID has already made major strides in adoption in broadcast commercials so now we plan to devote more resources towards the broader use of Ad-ID in digital video advertising in order to reverse the chaos that exists within the digital video supply chain.

Case in point: Digital video asset data, decoding/encoding, and distribution processes are extremely fragmented with no standards or best practices in place. To achieve scale across all screens and devices, delivery of the original video asset (the mezzanine file) with a unique ID and “digital slate”—embedded metadata—is critical. Ad-ID makes this possible via our schema for the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) which is an open standard that enables metadata to be embedded in a variety of different file formats that are used throughout the industry—and can enable more interoperability-focused APIs. XMP and embedded metadata is the backbone of Ad-ID and ensures that the asset’s identity is accurately preserved across platforms. But for meaningful interoperability, metadata needs to flow freely and seamlessly.

Thankfully, the perfect “partner” to make this a reality already exists: The IAB’s VAST 3.0 (Digital Video Ad Serving Template). I’m happy to report that Ad-ID and the IAB are currently working together to develop the mechanism for the transport of metadata via VAST 3.0 to enable cross-platform interoperability and enhanced operational efficiency for digital video. (I will be speaking at the IAB’s Ad Operations Summit on November 3rd in New York City on this very topic.) We’re exploring all the different ways that Ad-ID metadata can reinforce VAST 3.0.

But let’s think bigger: Integrating Ad-ID metadata in digital video assets provides capabilities beyond interoperability and streamlined processes. By aligning the metadata between TV commercials and digital video ads (70% of all digital video ads are repurposed from commercials), brand marketers can finally analyze campaigns and ROI using comparable metrics. They can track performance across multiple platforms and devices on the creative asset level. That’s a huge win for everyone: buyers, sellers, and the vendors who support them.

As Randall said during the fireside chat, “You need systems, you need processes, and you need maturity and sophistication if you are going to grow profitable businesses.” At Ad-ID, we couldn’t agree more. 

To hear more on this topic, join me at the IAB Ad Operations Summit: Spotlight Transformation on Monday, November 3. 

About the Author


Harold Geller

Harold Geller is the Chief Growth Officer of Ad-ID, a joint venture of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). Harold speaks and writes extensively regarding interoperability, digital asset workflow, and advertising metadata and is the co-author of four white papers on the subject. He can be reached on Twitter at @Adidentify.


Following efforts in the content marketing and native advertising space, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) continued with the October 21 Town Hall focused on best practices for user-generated content (UGC). Brands, publishers and agencies gathered at the IAB Ad Lab to present UGC case studies, offer tips on successful UGC strategies and discuss legal concerns involved.

Susan Borst, Director of Industry Initiatives, IAB, opened the Town Hall by welcoming members and guests before highlighting the benefits of UGC available to all players in the digital ecosystem. Borst defined the terms of the debate and outlined what qualifies as UGC sources noting that UGC can be either paid or organic. 

User-Generated Content Best Practices 

Eryn Ivey, Account Director/NE, Izea, and Michael Sadicario, Chief Sales Officer, Storyful spoke about how user-generated content works, what the benefits are, and where the industry is headed. Sadicario and Ivey offered five tips for brands and publishers exploring UGC strategy:
  1. Analyze the content ecosystem - from sites of interest and user relationships desired to metrics and questions of attribution, the process involves homework.
  2. Celebrate fans (with contests, repurposing content) and explore different types of compensation.
  3. Identify other sites where users engage with your brand and “trend” there.
  4. Set internal goals (KPIs) and promote user engagement.
  5. Learn how to engineer content - leveraging UGC in real time is key, as is knowing when to sit out the content storm.

Justin Garrity, President, Postano/TigerLogic, offered 10 tips on executing user-generated content campaigns. Garrity highlighted lessons learned in UGC including how to set ground rules, ideas to leverage influencer content and best practices on everything from hashtags (they can’t work alone!) to selfies (they need props!).

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On the brand safety best practices front, Tom O’Brien, National Advertising Director, Disqus, reviewed  some well-known “hashtag horror stories” that can occur with UGC and highlighted how brands use commenting platforms such as Disqus to leverage their “ability to mitigate and pre-moderate” UGC discussion by setting the terms. O’Brien cited a 2013 Adobe study that showed a rise in consumer commenting and highlighted brands that are using the Disqus commenting platform successfully such as Dove with the “Real Beauty” campaign. He also noted that it is the publisher or brand site that sets the level of moderation based on their needs.

Insights from UGC Case Studies
There are many executions of UGC campaigns from crowd-sourced content, influencer campaigns/sponsored social, user reviews and comments, UGC for events and intelligence and so much more.  IAB members and special guests highlighted case studies, including some legal considerations for their campaigns.

New IPSOS Research & Why Hershey’s is Sweet on Authentic UGC
Anna Lingeris, Sr. Manager, Brand Public Relations & Consumer Engagement, The Hershey Co., presented the first case study. Lingeris described her company’s approach when looking to leverage user-generated content in promoting Hershey’s Spreads. After a great deal of pre-launch discovery, Hershey “primed the pump” by planting seeds in search engines and establishing parameters of the conversation. Lingeris explained how Hershey leveraged UGC generated by the campaign with Crowdtap to inform future marketing strategies in a technique named later as a best practice. 

Anna Kassoway, CMO, Crowdtap, offered the audience results of the 2014 Ipsos MediaCT study sponsored by Crowdtap and SMAC that demonstrated what user-generated content means to millennials. As one would imagine, UGC is an essential part of daily life for this consumer base. The study showed that millennials are spending over 5 hours per day with user-generated content. Millennials considered UGC 50 percent more trustworthy than other media and 35 percent more memorable than other media.

A Lens into Earned Media With Canon and Klout
Monica Patterson, Supervisor of Internet Marketing, Canon, presented the next case study with Jon Dick, Sr. Director of Marketing, Klout. From the Project Imagination short film series with Ron Howard to the Pixma Pro City Senses events, Canon has found user-generated content a natural fit for its products. In fact, Canon saw a huge spike in engagement during the City Sense events of 2013 and 2014, with its Pixma Pro line being the beneficiary.

Publisher TimeOut New York Crowd Sources Instagram Fans for Content
Mike Kelly, Digital Marketing Director, Time Out North America, presented a case study on taking user-generated online content and using it in a print medium - the magazine’s cover. Time Out New York ran an Instagram contest asking for user photos from restaurants the magazine nominated for its annual food and drink awards. Instagram users were more than happy to oblige, with over 1,000 entries along with a 40 percent increase in Instagram engagement over six months as a result of the contest. Retweets to 31 million followers highlighted the success of the foray into UGC.


How Industry Reviews Helped the Travel Industry Take Flight
David Elkins, Director of Sales, TripAdvisor, presented a case study for a company whose content is exclusively user-generated. Elkins related the findings of a Cornell University study showing why travel brand owners are paying as much attention as consumers. Higher review scores allowed hotel owners to charge 11 percent more than their lower-rated competition without lowering occupancy rates. He then showed how travel brands are using TripAdvisor reviews on their own sites and even in their own advertising. 

Wrapping up the session as it relates to UGC legal considerations, Borst stressed that it is always best to consult your legal team with any questions prior to engaging any UGC campaign. There are many factors that need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The audience stated a strong desire to elaborate on the topic of “legal considerations” in future IAB initiatives.

View the full Town Hall presentation deck and the UGC Digital Simplified overview.

About the Author


Susan Borst

Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives at the IAB focusing on Social Media, B2B, Games, Content Marketing and Native Advertising. 
She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst

Reporting by Eric Schaal, IAB Editorial 

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