“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Curt Larson, vice president of product at Sharethrough.
The IAB’s OpenRTB 3.0 Draft Framework is currently available for industry comment. Although many OpenRTB releases make more purely technical enhancements, 3.0 introduces several major changes under the guiding principles of trust and user respect that should bring significant change to the programmatic ecosystem.
The 3.0 standard will benefit and impact both the supply and buy sides. The buy side will receive a publisher signature in bid requests that authenticates many aspects of the request and should spur far greater trust in the programmatic supply chain.
On the sell side, publishers will gain increased transparency into the creatives they are running and better ability to exert controls and policies, guided by both user experience and legal concerns. Combined, these factors will result in three major shifts that provide a better experience for ad buyers.
Secure The Supply Chain
The industry is already working its way toward a clean supply chain thanks to the Ads.txt initiative, with 44% of the top 1,000 ad-supported websites having adopted Ads.txt at the end of October. RTB 3.0 is designed to work hand-in-hand with Ads.txt to secure the supply chain, with publishers or their vendors adding a unique signature to impressions so that buyers know the impression and accompanying data are genuine.
Ads.txt tells buyers which channels are authorized to sell a publisher’s inventory, while RTB 3.0 allows the buyer to determine if the inventory is legitimate and extend that security past just the domain name.
As an analogy, Ads.txt is an authorized reseller concept and can tell you that a store is authorized to sell Rolex watches, while RTB 3.0 says, “This watch is a Rolex.” No matter where you buy, RTB 3.0 can confirm when a watch is a Rolex because it carries the unique Rolex signature.
With fraud still a concern on the buy side, RTB 3.0’s immediate benefit is its clear indication that potential purchases are free of domain, IP (user location), user ID, format and some other types of fraud.
Seamless Transacting Of New Formats
Beyond a fear of fraud, both users and the industry have grown fatigued with traditional banners. While new formats such as native and AMP ads have emerged, buyers often need to use separate tech stacks to execute these buys. The buy side is understandably eager to stop treating native and AMP as new types of creative or different types of display.
RTB 3.0 will be instrumental in giving buyers this seamless buying process across new ad formats, unifying the buying process so that demand-side platforms (DSPs) can respond to the different kinds of bid requests and available impressions.
Better User Experience
New formats aren’t just appealing to ad buyers – they are actually safer from the publisher’s perspective.
The current standards – built around traditional display – introduce lots of risk of data leakage, and once loaded, the code on the page can do anything it wants. This often results in slow page load times and worse, which has contributed greatly to the rise of ad blockers.
The result is a better user experience. Happier visitors lead to more time spent on a site, which creates more secure ad opportunities to pass along to the buy side. With RTB 3.0 also clearing the market of less desirable inventory, it should increase the value of impressions from honest publishers, resulting in more money going directly from advertisers to publishers and allowing publishers to continue improving their onsite experiences.
We may also see a decline in long-term ad-blocking use if publishers give users better experiences. In the end, improving the user experience improves the online ad economy for nearly every participant.