Creative guidelines: IAB sets maximum CPU usage

The IAB held its annual Ad Operations Summit. One of the major announcements was the release of new Guidelines for both Standard and Rich Media creatives.

As TechCrunch puts it,

The idea behind the IAB’s Guidelines, which had not been updated since 2008, is to balance the needs of advertisers and publishers with the need for “positive consumer experiences,” explains the organization

That’s a convoluted way to say that the industry finally reached a consensus that bloated ads harm the ecosystem.

As much as 14% of the online audience now use ad blockers to solve this problem on their own. This trend is shifting the balance of power from the buying side to the selling side, as publishers step in to protect the remains of their ad-sponsored audience.

Manual CPU measurement is not easy and Adobe announced on the same day that they are releasing a tool focused on this task. We hereby welcome Adobe in our nascent industry ;-)

The new IAB Guideline is great news as it will force creative designers to be more respectful of performance considerations and to stop blaming Flash evilness. The rise of ad blockers gives you a sense of the damage that has already been done.

ClarityAd monitors third-party tags and warns you when creatives exceed your maximum CPU usage spec. Get started!


Trust in Third-party tags

Placing a third-party tag on your website is like giving your house keys to the handyman. Regardless of what the convenience may be worth, your bet on a partner is purely based on trust.

  • - How can you ensure that the ads will be delivered in compliance with your specs?
  • - How damaging to your brand reputation could this become?
  • - Would you rather take the risk or leave money on the table?

At ClarityAd, we know this is a constant worry for publishers. Thorough due diligence on partners is only a mitigating measure. Manual testing is simply not an adequate answer.

To illustrate my point, let’s look at a US publisher looking to better monetize their Latin American audience. They will most likely work with a local partner to deal with local agencies. When the Ad Ops team receives the third-party tag from their partner, they will simply preview it in their ad server and put it live. At this point, anything can happen.

ClarityAd lets you monitor a given tag. At a set interval, we read the tag from relevant geographies – because you can’t test a tag targeted for Brazil when you sit in your New York office. We observe the behavior of the tag and its creative, and we build a report for it.

  • - If you’ve setup your ad specs so that pop-unders are not allowed, we’ll report it to you immediately.
  • - If your ad specs define a maximum CPU usage for creatives, we’ll report a creative that eats too much CPU resources,
  • - If a creative or tag is associated with malware activities, we’ll report it to you
  • - And much more

ClarityAd asks for your ad specs once, then all reports are tailored accordingly.


Enforce your ad specs, protect your audience.


The challenges of serving Flash creatives

Flash creatives represent approximately 50% of online display advertising.

And serving Flash ads has its own set of challenges. The way Flash works traditionally makes it impossible for anyone to make any modification to the creative, except for the designer who authored it. Unless you get access to the source file, which is often times not the case.

Ad servers track clicks by crafting a “redirect URL”, a web page that does nothing but count user clicks and forward to the advertiser’s destination URL. That becomes a problem for Flash, in the opaque way it operates. That’s why some smart people came up with the clickTAG, a decade ago. The clickTAG exposes a variable for the ad server to customize the destination URL. So instead of pointing directly to the advertiser’s landing page, the ad server will pass traffic to its “redirect URL”.

Most ad servers will reject a banner if it fails to implement the clickTAG correctly. The test consists in checking for the word clickTAG in the SWF file. But what if the banner is not clickable, or the clickable area is too small or hidden? What if the test fails? How do we run the campaign?

To add even more confusion, clickTAG is not standardized. Some ad servers expect it as “clickTAG”, some as “clickTag”. Some designers implement several clickable areas on the banner “clickTAG1”, “clickTAG2”, etc. There is a good chance for a creative to work properly on an ad server and not on another one.

This is THE major bottleneck in ad serving productivity.

Unlike ad servers, ClarityAd analyzes creatives dynamically in its proprietary sandbox, identifies problems and acts upon them. A creative that goes out of ClarityAd is clickable, we know because our system clicked for you!

Are you a Publisher or an Ad Network? Create your account then send us your creatives and our system will instantly provide you with a report and a fixed creative to download, if applicable.

Are you an Ad Server? Check out our API! We’ll transparently repair clickTAGs on the fly. No more customer support hassle.

Enforce your ad specs, protect your audience.


Ad Verification for Publishers?

ClarityAd was started from a simple observation:

The Ad Operation industry lacks proper tools to verify campaigns and enforce ad specs.

As legitimate as these ad specs could be, they are nearly impossible to enforce on a consistent basis.

Meanwhile, studies show that as much as 14% of Internet users have an ad blocker installed on their browser.

On top of that, Malvertising became a rampant problem, hurting business reputations and weakening people’s trust in publishers.

Our Vision

It’s about time we put an end to approximate testing, rampant exposure to malware and bloated banners.

Just like advertisers have enjoyed “Ad Verification” tools to monitor their campaigns, ClarityAd introduces Ad Verification for Publishers.

By leveraging ClarityAd, Publishers and Ad Networks will protect their most precious asset - their Audience, while significantly increasing Ad Ops productivity


Enforce your ad specs, protect your audience.