IAB Proposes First Big Overhaul to App Advertising Guidelines Since 2013

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Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Consumers and advertisers have been rushing to mobile apps from desktop computing at a breakneck pace, but standards for the ads haven't been keeping up.

Now the Interactive Advertising Bureau has proposed its first major update to in-app ad guidelines since 2013, touching on areas including viewability, location and measurement.

The proposed changes, which are open for industry comments until Jan. 30, frequently call for companies that serve ads in apps to provide more information to marketers.

The new guidelines will call on companies serving in-app ads to tell advertisers whether consumers let the app access their devices' locations, for example, and to provide further data about users' whereabouts.

"These revised guidelines will further enhance and improve the rich mobile ad experience for consumers, while also improving ad effectiveness for advertisers and publishers," Alanna Gombert, general manager at the IAB Tech Lab, said.

On the subject of viewability, advertisers will be told what percentage of an ad appears on-screen in an app, something not previously called for.

Marketers will also be informed whether mobile devices' sound was enabled when their video or audio ads played, and at what volume.

And the guidelines require apps to load ads when they're about to appear on-screen instead of waiting until consumers actually get to them. Today apps often start trying to display an ad without all its assets in place, so consumers see a white screen or empty space until the ad can properly render, the IAB said.

The specifications, referred to as mobile rich-media ad interface definitions, or MRAID 3.0, were introduced in 2011 and updated in 2013. Without MRAID, ad developers would have to design interactive ads specifically for each proprietary system.

"We are definitely growing as an industry and that means we are getting more technical," said Ms. Gombert. "This update is an example of that."

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