Why are the IAB Standards important?

IAB Standards

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), established in 1996, is an advertising business organization that develops online advertising industry standards. The IAB Standards are a series of guidelines put in place by the IAB designed to support a healthy and sustainable online advertising industry, to curate a safe and pleasant browsing experience for the end user and promote the growth and health of the online advertising industry. It is the responsibility of Advertisers, Publishers and Ad networks to abide by these standards and keep up-to-date with best practices and new rules and regulations.

The IAB standards and best practices are implemented industry-wide, because following their guidelines is the most direct way towards a good brand reputation, a positive Google ranking and a healthy revenue stream for both publishers and advertisers.

Another one of their initiatives is the recent creation of a new Sustainability Standards Committee, to help all parties within the Industry reduce their energy consumption – The internet currently contributes to 2-4% of global carbon emissions.

What is the IAB, the IAB Standards, and what do they do?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) not only develops online advertising industry standards, it also conducts research, and provides legal support for the industry. Also, it educates ad networks, publishers, advertisers, brands, agencies and the wider business community about online advertising best practices.

The IAB Standards

The IAB Standards are rules and guidelines that contain a set of technical requirements that are designed to help online ad businesses to:

  • Work within proven guidelines to drive online advertising businesses growth
  • Optimize ad measurements efficiency, and to ensure optimal monetization for both advertisers and publishers
  • Guarantee that end users have a non-intrusive and optimized ad viewing experience
  • Make sure that online ads are compliant with browsers such as Google Chrome and are aligned with industry bodies such as the Coalition for Better Ads
  • Protect end user privacy and responsible use of their data
  • Achieve consistency in ad measurement and behavior
  • Promote brand safety and avoid ad fraud

As an idea the IAB has General Ad Requirements that apply to all ads:

  • Interest-Based Advertising (IBA): Include IBA self regulation controls for ads using behavioral targeting (5kB max file size).
  • Audio: Audio in ads should be muted. To allow for audio initiation in ads, a control may be included for the user to initiate audio. See the LEAN user experience and ad content guidance for more on audio in ads.
  • Defining ad space: Ad unit content must be clearly distinguishable from publisher or unpaid content on the page (for example an ad unit may have clearly defined borders so it is not confused with normal page content).
  • CPU Load: Ads should be developed to perform smoothly and not interfere with site or app performance. 30% CPU load max (based on the average CPU of the user base) per active ad.
  • Maximum number of host-initiated file requests: Ad must not exceed ten file requests during initial file load. Additional files can be loaded as necessary during host initiated subload and user initiated loads.
  • Recommendations for sizes and weights of ad creatives: The IAB recommendations for different ad sizes and weights are specified as display ads between 50KB and 350KB, with a range of set pixel sizes for banner ad variations for desktop and mobile.

Benefits for advertisers: 

  • Increased ROI: Heavy ads negatively impact the end user experience. Lower banner weight leads to faster load time, which results in higher CTR and  Higher Conversions!
  • Healthy brand reputation: For the sake of brand reputation, it is important that ads and landing pages look professional, and have the right sizes and weights for their creatives. Only that way will the end user feel safe enough to buy anything!
  • Time and resource saving: Advertisers spend a lot of time designing creatives, campaigns, and landing pages. If these are of low quality, Google might end up blocking them, which would result in a lower Google score, as well as the loss of all the hard work put into their campaigns.
  • Positive Google Rankings: It is important to notice, once again, that Google blocks ads that are slow to load. If ads meet IAB weight standards, they are fast to load and therefore have a positive effect on Google rankings.
  • Access to quality traffic: Publishers are also penalized in SEO rankings if their website is slow to load. A faster loading website means a higher SEO ranking which leads to more organic traffic that will see your ads and higher conversions.

Benefits for Publishers:

  • Site reputation: It is key for Publishers to display ads that are high quality on their website to ensure a good ad experience for the end users, which is paramount for their site’s reputation.
  • Increased revenues: The more clicks and the higher the CTRs that these ads get, the higher the value of their site’s ad zones will have, which will directly affect the Publisher’s revenues.
  • Positive Google rankings: Website loading speed is now having a major impact on how Google ranks websites on its search engine. By reducing the maximum size for ad creatives your website will load faster and therefore improve your SEO rankings, additionally this will provide your end users with a better experience and bring you more organic traffic due to better SEO ranking.

How does ExoClick align with the IAB Standards?

ExoClick abides by the IAB’s guidelines aligning our network with the industry standards. All our ad formats are in line with IAB recommendations. For example, our system helps advertisers ensure that the weights and sizes of their creatives are industry compliant. Since February 2020, ExoClick changed the maximum weight accepted for our banner ad formats creatives from 1MB to 150KB. Most of ExoClick’s ad formats have a weight limit of 150KB, except large creative formats such as the Fullpage Interstitials (FPIs), which have a weight limit of 300KB.

Additionally, ExoClick’s system automatically converts and optimizes certain heavier formats into lighter ones:

  • Animated GIF banners are heavy files, therefore ExoClick will automatically convert GIFs into lower weighted MP4 files, this will also improve the quality of the creative shown.
  • PNG files are a heavier format compared to JPEG files, therefore ExoClick will automatically convert PNGs to JPEGs in our system before they are served on an ad zone.

ExoClick allows Publishers to use Asynchronous Tags for desktop and mobile banners ad zones. This results in the ads loading asynchronously, meaning that other content will be able to load while the ads are loading. This will increase performance when used on well-optimized sites. Publishers can use a single request to get multiple ad zones on the same page. This is more efficient and will lead to a performance increase also. Providing fast ad load times will enhance the end user experience.

Our Publisher account managers ensure that our network of publisher sites provide a great end user browsing experience, without bombarding end users with intrusive ads, as recommended by the IAB.

Our 24/7 Compliance team ensures that all ad creatives and campaigns are fully compliant with IAB standards, Google compliance and industry bodies such as the Coalition for Better Ads.

Bryan McDonald