IAB Tech Lab Announces Ad Format Guidelines for Digital Video and Connected TV

Now Available for Public Comment Until April 29, 2022

IAB Tech Lab, the digital advertising technical standards-setting body, has announced an update to the ad format guidelines to include Digital Video and Connected TV (CTV) formats. The former version of the guidance was released six years ago while video and CTV were relatively nascent channels. This update accounts for higher resolution, wider screens, and the opportunities for ad interactions in CTV that exist in today’s world.

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Ad spend in CTV channels is on the rise. This update to the ad format guidelines aims to minimize the fragmentation of ad formats being used across different Digital Video and CTV publishers, and creates standardization that makes it easier for advertisers to use their digital assets across screens. This will help advertisers save costs by reducing the need for video assets in multiple formats, and overall, the increase in standardization will make the transition of ad dollars from linear TV to CTV, as seamless as possible—one of IAB Tech Lab’s key objectives.

“This standardization of ad formats will enable publishers to scale their inventory more easily across different distribution channels, such as programmatic marketplaces or ad networks, which will deliver better fill rates,” said Anthony Katsur, CEO, IAB Tech Lab. “For advertisers, this standardization makes cross-screen programmatic activation of Digital Video and CTV easier, and the new guidance for interactive video experiences will help them deliver more effective ad experiences for their audiences.”

IAB Tech Lab’s ad format guidelines for digital video and CTV will help publishers, ad networks, exchanges, and server-side ad insertion (SSAI) platforms communicate a baseline technical standard for the creative files needed to serve ads on their platforms. They will also benefit publishers by reducing one of the barriers to selling digital video and CTV inventory because it defines ad file requirements for cross-screen campaigns, helping scale both buying and selling programmatically in the Digital Video and CTV space. The CTV and Digital Video ad guidelines include:

  • Creative file submission: Defines communicating general submission guidelines for the creative such as ad duration, aspect ratio, and details of any engagement events.
  • Mezzanine file: Guidelines for the raw source file such as bitrate, frame rate, color space, and audio settings to drive the most consistent output for transcoding smaller, ready-to-serve files.
  • Ready-to-serve files: Since the mezzanine file is too big to serve, guidelines are provided for transcoding smaller, ready-to-serve files at low, medium, and high resolutions to match to environments where screen size or connection speeds may be limited.
  • Nonlinear and companion ads: Nonlinear ads, the small video or animated overlays, are becoming more common in CTV. Guidelines for dimensions and placement, duration, engagement, and controls are provided. Similar guidelines are provided for companion ads that display outside the player, such as when the player is embedded in a webpage.

“CTV has become a critical component of the digital advertising ecosystem, and the industry is in desperate need of a comprehensive set of standards for brand safe and viewable ads on CTV,” said Nick Short, Director, Publisher Services at Flashtalking by Mediaocean. “We’ve had great success deploying the Tech Lab standards to achieve scale, security, and consistency in video ad delivery, and look forward to continuing our work with them to ensure profitable, compliant environments for advertisers.”

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Starting on Thursday, March 31 at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Guidelines for Digital Video and Connected TV will be available for public comment for 30 days. IAB Tech Lab encourages Ad platforms and publishers who sell video and CTV inventory to provide feedback that aligns with their own creative file requirements so that this guideline defines the baseline ad creative requirements to make it easier for brands and agencies to develop and submit ads for their available inventory.

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