IAB Tech Lab Proposes OpenRTB 3.0 To Create More Honest Auctions

The IAB Tech Lab wants to change its OpenRTB 3.0 programmatic auction standard so that it authenticates basic details of the transaction, like the identity of the seller.

The current OpenRTB standard assumes buyers and sellers honestly identify themselves and their intentions – but some shady players took advantage of that honor system.

One problem is that the current standard passes information in plain text, making it subject to tampering, said Dennis Buchheim, GM of the IAB Tech Lab.

The new standard authenticates and secures the most critical identifying information, so it’s harder to misrepresent inventory.

“OpenRTB 3.0 is intended to implement the supply chain in the protocol,” Buchheim said.

By overhauling the standard, the IAB Tech Lab hopes to restore trust into a system pressured by spoofed domains, fraud, unclear auction dynamics and hidden middlemen.

The changes will benefit both buyers and publishers.

Buyers get more confidence that the inventory they’re buying is what it claims to be, Buchheim said. Ads.txt, woven into the protocol, verifies they’re buying publisher inventory through approved exchanges.

Sellers will have more control over the ad creative on their sites. They can screen ad creative via a new ad management API, and approve or reject creative based on their criteria for brand safety or ad load time. Publishers also will be able to track bad ads, like those with hidden malware, more quickly.

“Publishers [will have] transparency into JavaScript trackers that run from creative tuning in their pages,” Buchheim said. “This will address the longstanding problem of buyers simply dumping a load of pixels and scripts, clogging up a user’s web page experience and even causing malware installation.”

Ad exchanges will need to standardize how they communicate information in the new standard, as OpenRTB 3.0 replaces “proprietary extensions” around areas like ad creative, for example, that varied from exchange to exchange, Buchheim said.

“Exchanges/SSPs have a big role to play in supporting adoption,” Buchheim said. They will need to add publisher ID fields from ads.txt, and route signed bid requests from publishers to buyers. They will also need to build support for adCOM, the spec that will allow publishers to see all the JavaScript trackers coming in from buyers.

The OpenRTB standard will be open for public comment for the next three months, after which the IAB Tech Lab will come up with a final standard.

Anyone in the industry can comment on the OpenRTB 3.0 standard here for the next three months. Initial feedback will be incorporated into the standard starting in October, and the full comment period will end Dec. 15.

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