The programmatic landscape is constantly adapting to new ad tech needs and requirements. As programmatic buying has continued to introduce more complexities, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has tasked itself with designing “new procedures to bring more clarity to the byzantine digital ad-supply chain”. This new protocol is actively being developed within the IAB, which is accepting public comments until December 15, 2017.
The advertising community has been eagerly awaiting the release of OpenRTB 3.0, the informal release date is set to early next year. So why is this so exciting to advertisers? OpenRTB 3.0 will not only drive faster bidding, but will also address transparency concerns that only became apparent after the release of OpenRTB 2.0, which set guidelines around mobile programmatic buying. OpenRTB 3.0 will require all actors in the supply chain to provide an authenticated signature to every impression served, giving advertisers more visibility into the inventory they’re purchasing.
On the other hand, developers feel an increasing need to simplify video protocols. On Thursday, November 9, the IAB announced the deprecation of VPAID in favor of VAST 4.0. Released nine years ago, VPAID saw widespread adoption because of its flexibility. Two challenges with VPAID have been transparency and trust. Publishers are required to hand over playback control to the VPAID ad unit and abdicate their influence over the user experience. According to the IAB, VAST 4.0 addressed some of these concerns last year by clearly identifying executable code and its purpose (e.g. AdVerification and InteractiveCreative nodes).
Furthermore, the lack of transparency and control prevalent in some programmatic ecosystems has prompted the launch of ads.txt, which allows traffic sources to tag the companies authorized to sell their inventory.
With all these changes on the horizon, Chartboost asked Uri Lichtman, Head of Supply at Jampp, and Kim Aquino, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Aarki, what they think about the future of programmatic and how protocols mostly built for the mobile web will evolve to accommodate increasing in-app inventories.
At a high level, what are the main updates to OpenRTB 3.0? How will it differ from the current OpenRTB 2.3?
Jampp: When RTB was created, it was a much simpler ecosystem with shorter supply chains and fewer opportunities for fraud. As the industry evolved — specifically considering today’s complex and variable supply chains — updating the protocol is a necessary step to face the new challenges of programmatic.
Aarki: No significant changes—we see most of the updates in 3.0 are related to defining the relationship between RTB protocol and supplementary IAB standards. In other words, there isn’t a significant change to how RTB will be implemented, but additional standards and best practices via Ads API and Ads.txt are defined in relation to RTB.
OpenRTB is a generic protocol for both the mobile web and in-app. Do you think 3.0 will cater more to the specific needs of in-app?
Jampp: We believe that the protocol should follow the industry trends, and with mobile in-app being the main driver of growth, we expect the new version of the protocol to have better functionalities for mobile in-app.
Aarki: We do not anticipate significant in-app focused specifications in 3.0. However, with the inclusion of AMP ads in AdCom, we anticipate that in the next major Open RTB and AdCom versions in-app standards and best practices will be addressed.
Do you plan to adopt OpenRTB 3.0 in 2018? What are the major features driving your adoption and its priority?
Jampp: We will adopt the protocol once we are confident it achieves their main goals, which are to make the programmatic environment secure, transparent, authenticated, and trusted. We believe the advancement and promotion of blockchain technology for digital advertising is a step forward to improve transparency. Security will be improved once we implement cryptographically signed bid requests to view the actual path of inventory, and that will provide buyers with verification of an untampered supply chain, which will also harness trust.
Aarki: Yes, if we see our partners move to 3.0. Standardization of notification events such as billing and loss are our main priority. These have been included in the 2.5 in some spec in some form, but we are not seeing widespread adoption and at this point anticipate that 2.5 will be skipped in favor of 3.0 for mobile focused exchanges and SSPs.
Programmatic fraud has been a hot topic lately because of domain spoofing. What would you say are the biggest in-app fraud practices, and how can we collectively ensure a healthier ecosystem?
Jampp: Fighting fraud is a responsibility that should burden all of the players in this industry. It should be an issue of utmost importance for advertisers who are seeing their budgets misallocated, and also for the publishers who are losing the value of their inventory due to fraud practices from shady players. In terms of today’s fraudulent practices — which we hope the IAB address in the next protocol — here are the main frauds:
- Domain fraud (changing the domain to a more valuable publisher)
- Location fraud (changing the IP address/location to a more valuable location)
- User ID fraud (changing the device ID or buyer ID to one that has historically monetized well)
- Device fraud (changing from a type of device that doesn’t tend to monetize well to one that does)
Aarki: Biggest fraud practices are ad stacking, click stuffing, device reset farms, and adware. As an industry, we should collectively focus on combating ad fraud rather than competing on identifying the better product. We welcome the more active role that many supply partners are taking in vetting their inventory.
If you had to guess, how much of in-app inventory will be available programmatically by the end of 2018?
Jampp: It’s hard to pinpoint an exact number. However, if the new protocol addresses the fraud and transparency concerns of the today’s ecosystem, the percentage of in-app inventory transacted through exchanges is going to continue growing at accelerated rates.
Aarki: Approximately 80-85%.