The Future of Advertising? How the IAB’s Dynamic Ads Standard Changes the Game

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In recent years, programmatic media platforms have revolutionized the world of media buying and selling. Meanwhile the missing piece in the personalized digital advertising puzzle – programmatic and dynamic creative – has been evolving much more slowly.

This is about to change.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently introduced a revolutionary new standard – the first ever – for dynamic digital advertising. Now open to public comment, the IAB Dynamic Content Ad Standard provides a detailed schema for how constituents across the digital ad supply chain should define each of the creative components and their asset variations within any ad unit in order to build and serve real-time dynamic content in advertising.

What does this really mean? Here’s a bit of background.

For the past few years, I’ve been honored to co-chair the IAB Tech Lab’s Working Group developing the IAB Dynamic Content Ad Standard with co-chair Cary Tilds, Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM.

Cary and I have long been convinced there must be a better way to scale creative in digital ads without resorting to the boxy, unappealing, hard-coded “one size fits all” templates responsible for so many of today’s ads – these same ads consumers are fighting against with ad blockers.

To find a solution, we joined forces with the IAB Tech Lab and a team of 60+ executives from some of the biggest brands, agencies, media companies and technology providers in the digital ad ecosystem.

Collectively, we had all witnessed what happened when the IAB introduced the standards for programmatic media. Introduced in 2015, the IAB’s OpenRTB 1.0 specification profoundly changed the digital advertising landscape, bringing unprecedented efficiency and scale to media buying, driving costs down and paving the way for a whole new financial and delivery model for digital ads.

It was, let’s say, Day One of the revolution.

And much like the IAB’s programmatic media standards drove the industry’s massive shift to programmatic media buying, the IAB’s Dynamic Content Ad Standard is laying the groundwork for the second revolution in digital advertising.

It is now Day Two.

Opening the Door to Growth in Digital Advertising

Until pieces of software can communicate with each other, or translate what each is saying, there is no hope for personalized digital advertising to achieve any kind of scale across any part of the digital ad ecosystem. Just like the Babel fish in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, standards remove communication barriers between the many layers of software in digital advertising. Creative-authoring tools, data-driven personalization platforms, ad servers, DSPs, content management systems and measurement tools – they all must cooperate in order to deliver and measure creative that is uniquely targeted to each individual.

How important is this new standard?

It truly represents nothing less than the key to unlocking unprecedented growth in the digital ad industry. Through its adoption, marketers can now open the doors of walled gardens, such as Facebook and Google, making social media and omnichannel marketing an imminent reality. And as it evolves, the standard will future-proof the next wave of creativity, from artificial intelligence and IoT applications to augmented and virtual reality.

Rarely is any advance in technology truly game-changing with the power to move markets. The expected impact of the IAB’s new standard across the digital ad ecosystem, however, will be massive and simply cannot be overstated. If you play any role in the digital advertising ecosystem, you would be wise to pay attention, as it will almost certainly be relevant to you.

The standard is open to public comment through November 28, 2016. Before the IAB releases a final version, I strongly encourage you to take a look and send your feedback to the IAB Tech Lab at dynamiccontentads@iab.com.

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