Interactive Advertising Workflow Best Practices

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Executive Summary

These Interactive Advertising Workflow Best Practices offer solutions to many of the supply chain issues that have plagued the interactive advertising industry, such as late creative, discrepancies and billing reconciliation. Drawing on the collective work and insight of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), its publisher members, the Media Rating Council (MRC), and major agencies, this document provides a holistic view of the entire interactive advertising supply chain and detailed, objective Best Practices for each step of the workflow:

This document represents several years of gathered experience and discussions and is the most in-depth and comprehensive interactive supply chain reference in the industry. Since the interactive advertising workflow touches multiple departments at publishers and agencies, these best practices should be read and adopted by everyone from senior management to entry level employees looking for a high-level understanding of the overall process and practical advice on execution. Improving communication, both inter-departmentally and between agency and publisher, is at the core of reducing discrepancies and thus achieving greater operational efficiency.

Stage 1: Request for Proposal (RFP)
Clear and open communication between a publisher and the agency needs to begin with the RFP. When submitting an RFP, an agency should outline as much detail about the campaign as possible. Revealing marketer objectives, target audience, inventory preferences, and any other special requests beyond budget and flight dates will allow the publisher to provide a more comprehensive proposal. RFP best practices for publishers include establishing internal policies on pricing and credit, and for agencies, it is necessary to clearly communicate timelines to the marketer.

Stage 2: Insertion Order (IO)
An Insertion Order is generated once the proposal is approved by the agency. The publisher should set up appropriate controls along the IO approval process to ensure that all aspects of the IO meet internal requirements. At this stage, it is critical for both parties to review specific details about the IO including the billing method, delivery requirements, and any addendums to the AAAA/IAB standard terms and conditions. Rectifying errors and verifying all contact information at this stage will reduce inefficiencies through the rest of the workflow.

Stage 3: Creative Delivery
Adoption of the following tools by both publishers and agencies can help solve many causes of late creative and the usual ensuing problems:
     • The IAB Creative Specs Database – An online database maintained by the IAB to ensure that
agencies have access to current specs for their campaigns and to consolidate publisher specs into a single source for accurate specs data throughout the industry; the Database is populated by publishers, and specs for a campaign are downloaded by agencies.
     • The Creative Delivery Best Practices – A project plan template for rich and non-rich creative
development, from marketer briefing to publisher launch of campaign. The Best Practices Processes are meant to be used by marketers, agencies, and publishers as the basis for internal process and efficiency improvement.

Stage 4: Campaign Delivery & Optimization
After creative is delivered, crucial steps for both parties remain. Clear communication should continue with the traffic instructions. The publisher should contact the agency over any ambiguities. In addition, login information should be exchanged so that delivery can be monitored in both the publisher and third-party ad servers. Campaigns should then be checked within one business day of launch to confirm that all tags are implemented properly. To catch discrepancies, both parties should continually monitor delivery and optimize when necessary.

Stage 5: Billing & Collections
No supply chain is complete until final payment is made. Billing & Collections remain challenging due to the number of departments involved. Following best practices from the start reduces billing errors and simplifies reconciliation, but clear and open communication can alleviate remaining issues. It is recommended that both publishers and agencies establish cross-departmental communication channels to speed up the reconciliation process.

End Goal: Scalable, Higher Quality Operations
The IAB is confident that, if adopted by both publishers and agencies, the best practices outlined in this workflow document will enable both sides to materially improve their operational effectiveness, significantly decrease material discrepancies, and build more scalable, profitable organizations.

Download the Complete Interactive Advertising Workflow Best Practices