IAB Tech Lab Wants To Make Sure Advertisers Are Deploying Ads Correctly

iabcomplianceIn ad tech, even standards need standards.

On Monday, the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab unveiled a compliance program for vendors to prove they’re adhering to the alphabet soup of ad delivery industry standards.

Over the years, the IAB has developed a protocol for ad delivery: VAST for video ad serving; VPAID to allow video ads and players to communicate which each other; OpenRTB for programmatic buying; and MRAID for rendering and serving mobile rich media programmatically.

But there’s no guarantee that a company is using the standards correctly since a lot can go wrong if everyone isn’t on the same page.

If audio is encoded into a file in stereo, it’s going to sound pretty crappy on an over-the-top device. Or if a video vendor isn’t on board with VAST, the ad might not be compatible with the environment it’s being served into.

And that makes compliance a user experience issue.

“Companies that don’t adhere to the framework won’t be deploying in the right way,” said Alanna Gombert, the IAB’s SVP of technology and ad operations and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab. “And then there might be consumer issues and complaints.”

Vendors who want to get the IAB’s seal of approval are required to provide samples to the Tech Lab, which will assess the company’s business processes and provide a pass/fail grade. A company must then submit at least three new samples every year to remain compliant.

The seal isn’t free. Like the seals doled out by the Media Ratings Council for adherence to its viewability and fraud standards and the deals that the Trustworthy Accountability Group dispenses for participation in its anti-fraud program, companies are required to pay the Tech Lab a fee for compliance with each standard – $5,000 apiece for members and $7,500 per seal for nonmembers. Annual seal renewal costs $2,500 for members and double that for nonmembers.

But it could become the price of doing business.

“The majority of folks will do it, which means that the platforms and partners that don’t will be at a disadvantage. It’s about supply and demand,” Gombert said. “But programs like these also show that you’re serious about self-regulation and that you’re serious about doing better.”

Seals are available for VAST, VPAID and OpenRTB, but the Tech Lab is still in the process of developing the verification and monitoring software it needs for MRAID. Gombert expects the MRAID seal to be ready by early 2017.

For the moment, Medialets and Starcom vet Yashica Wilson, director of enterprise certification programs at the IAB Tech Lab, is in charge of running the compliance efforts. The lab plans to hire two people next year to support Wilson.

One company, a video player purveyor called LogoBar, has already gone through the compliance program when it was in pilot stage and received seals for VPAID and VAST. Three or four more companies are in the pipeline right now on the cusp of getting their certification.

“There are so many vendors and partners in digital,” Gombert said. “The hope here is that people will come together for the greater good of the industry so they can actually talk to each other. That will make money move into the industry faster and make it easier to get assets out into the wild.”

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