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  • Posted by Christian Henschel

The industry needs in-app advertising guidelines


We welcome the new IAB Mobile Web Advertising Measurement Guidelines, v. 2.0, updated Nov. 2012 as a step forward for the mobile advertising industry. Compared with the earlier version released in April this year, it goes a long way to improving the definitions and standardising metrics for clicks and impressions.

Unfortunately the guidelines only cover web based mobile advertising, which represents only a fraction of mobile advertising. In-app advertising is one of the fastest growing advertising industries. Recent research by Mojiva shows that most EU countries currently have almost double the number of ad requests for in-app advertising as for mobile web. Pretty significant.

Currently, there are no standards and no guidelines for in-app advertising. This is an area that needs immediate attention and focus. I did hear a rumour yesterday that IAB US are currently drafting guidelines that are expected to be ready for comment Q1 2013…

The challenges the industry is facing are far greater than the challenges faced by mobile web advertising and this is why the process should be commenced now. I am confident that it will be addressed by the IAB in 2013 to the benefit of both advertisers and the industry.

Why is standardising metrics for in-app advertising challenging?

Clicks, impressions and other in-app mobile advertising metrics are measured and tracked based on SDKs.

With mobile web advertising, there are only a handful of browsers such as Safari or Chrome where the standards need to be set. In regards to in-app advertising, can be compared to trying to set mobile web specifications for fifty different browsers - technically complex. The in-app advertising tech space is fragmented and there are real technical hurdles to standardising what happens in the advertiser SDKs.

There are dozens of different SDKs used by different ad networks, which do not all work in the same way. They have differing technical capabilities and often track slightly different metrics. Most of them are closed source so external tech people implementing the code into the SDK does not have access to the code to determine what is being tracked. This makes it is difficult to find a standard tracking solution across all of the networks.

The most common metrics ad networks offer are simple clicks and impressions. But because of the different classification methods and definitions of what exactly is an impression or click, it makes comparing ad networks on the basis of their self-provided data almost impossible. In-app advertising should as closely as possible follow the direction of mobile web advertising standards in terms of definitions.

Areas that also need focus are: accidental clicks, click fraud identification (such as from simulator devices) and guidelines around ad placements in apps.

We look forward to playing a positive role in moving the industry forward.