Dynamic Content Ad Standards

Digital advertising creativity is flourishing, having undergone a dramatic transformation over the past several years. Gone are the days of digital ads being used almost exclusively for direct marketing purposes. Today, marketers are successfully employing digital advertising to achieve strategic objectives across the purchase funnel, with concept ads, content ads, and commerce ads. For the full range of ad formats, check out the IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio.

The growing complexity of the digital advertising ecosystem makes ad standards more necessary today than ever before, but it also raises the bar for what the standards must deliver. Building on the success of the Rising Stars, IAB will create next-generation ad standards in 2015 that enable marketers to use concept, content, and commerce ads even more effectively.

Concept Ads

ad-products-the-road-ahead-4Concept ads sit at the top of the funnel. They are fully produced, carefully crafted and finished products that aspire to match the memorability and impact of the very best advertising and have upper-funnel goals like generating brand awareness and intent to purchase. The use of these ads continues to grow, driven by marketers’ needs to create new desire and demand.

Digital video ads and IAB Rising Stars such as the Full-Page Flex and Billboard are often used for concepts ads. So too are television commercials and full-page magazine spreads.

We now live in a world where content is fluid across screens, and so too must be digital advertising. For this reason, the IAB is creating Flex Ad Standards, to enable creators to deliver responsive brand concept ads and buyers and sellers to transact on a single cross-screen ad equivalent. The IAB Full-Page Flex is one early example of a Flex standard.

Content Ads

ad-products-the-road-ahead-2-300x280Content Ads are collections of brand assets that often have no fixed rules about compilation and rendering. They usually have the mid-funnel goal of enhancing consumer understanding of a brand or product and accomplish this by providing high-quality content with which the viewer can engage (for example, by reading or viewing, sharing, or commenting).

Content ads frequently are delivered as a stream of assets in a vertical ad format (e.g., IAB Filmstrip, Portrait, or Half Page) or in a stream of content (e.g., Facebook or Twitter in-feed ads). What is currently being called native advertising is the dominant form of content advertising.

To enable the efficient scaling of content advertising, IAB will create Dynamic Content Ad Standards, its first not defined by pixel height and width. While no “native” standards will be developed, these will power native and all forms of content advertising.

Commerce Ads

ad-products-the-road-ahead-3-300x264Commerce ads dominate display today, especially the ubiquitous retargeting types that persistently follow consumers across the web.

Typically rendered in a previous-generation ad standard, these ads tend to have a single, bottom-funnel goal and their design reflects this focus. While they are not typically visually or experientially rich, the rendering and serving logic can be sophisticated to ensure that the right offer is served to each viewer.

Dynamic creative will continue to increase in importance as marketers’ ability to create more distinct commercial options and creative assets catches up with ad tech’s ability to target, render, and serve them.

We have too many last-generation IAB standards, which have swelled the IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio to 33, and this will be culled.

Download Ad Products: The Road Ahead (PDF)

IAB Tech Lab Lead



Shailley Singh
Director, Mobile & Ad Products