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IAB releases audit of online ad trading systems

Guidelines created featuring Adazzle, iDesk and Media Genie to help publishers future-proof the booking and buying process

IAB has released a full audit of Ad Trading Systems (ATS), which cover the ad booking and buying process, in a bid to future-proof the UK digital display industry.

ATS modernise the online trading process by allowing publishers and agencies to use online systems rather than book and buy via fax machine, as has been the case in the past.
ATS usage by publishers and agenciesimage by IABHow ad trading systems are used by publishers and agenciesProduced over a nine month period of consultation, live demos and reviews with publishers, agencies and the ATS providers themselves, the audit covers UK suppliers Adazzle, iDesk and Media Genie.

The guidelines, available to download here, offer the following benefits:

  1. ATS Standards, which are a ‘wish list’ of publisher requirements to help ATS develop their products in a simplified manner
  2. Offer publishers transparency over the current strengths and weaknesses of various systems with a traffic light rating system on each requirement on the list
  3. Offer publishers guidance over the use of Terms & Conditions within the ATS environment
  4. Offer any new ATS coming to market a list to work from to get up to speed with the rest of the market quickly
  5. Educate all parties with a short overview of the purpose of ATS in the market

Benefits of a standardised approach to integrating ATS with publisher businesses

These standards are the IAB Display Council’s response to a request from the ATS providers for a coordinated approach from publishers to help integrate their business processes with the new systems.

Before ATS, the booking and buying process used fax to confirm insertion orders (IOs) and invoices. The core booking procedure remains the same with a combination of negotiation in person or by phone, but the formal agreements between the publisher and the agency are contained within the ATS. This brings many benefits including a digital record for auditing and, in the long-term, significant savings with a more efficient workflow.

However, as ATS came to market, publishers faced a number of teething problems – many which have now been rectified as a result of the consultation process - consisting of increased admin issues; lack of consistency and in some instances a breach of publisher policies. The standards highlight why agencies, ATS and publishers should work together to solve these issues through a list of single requirements.

These ideal standards have been a combined in collaboration by members of the IAB’s Display Councils sub-committee consisting of publishers such as AOL, Bauer, Microsoft and Yahoo! The requirements are a way of driving transparency with a simple traffic light rating system. The most recent review was conducted between October 2010 and January 2011 with Adazzle, Adazzle Light, iDesk and Media Genie. Using a rating system of 2 points for ‘Criteria met’, 1 point for ‘Criteria partially met’ and 0 points for criteria not met the systems were scored:

  • Adazzle Full (paid-for): 50 / 56
  • Media Genie (free): 40 / 56
  • iDesk (free): 36 / 56
  • Adazzle Light (free): 23 / 56

Following this review, these will be a re-examined every 6 months thereafter.

Bauer Media’s Head of Digital Operations, Lisa Mundy said: “We have spent a great deal of time looking at the systems provided and aiming to build a working document that we can build upon across the coming months. This enables Publishers to have informed conversations with their agencies when discussing these systems and build a better relationship between Publisher and Agency.”

IAB’s Display Council Chair Rina Patel, Group Account Director, Yahoo said: “As online display advertising continues to grow in the UK, it’s essential to make sure processes are as consistent as possible. For the past year we have been working with all the ATS providers and evaluating the systems capabilities against a benchmark of criteria the IAB Display Council has put together. We hope that in the coming months that the ATS systems will develop further, allowing us to become more efficient and encourage a smoother business process between agencies and publishers.”

The IAB’s Head of Industry Programmes, Jack Wallington said: “Digital processes like ATS represent the future of all digital advertising, ultimately reducing resource cost and time. However, all industry developments require a period of adjustment, and while these systems have worked well for agencies, publishers have faced numerous hurdles as the ATS came to market.”

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