Corporate Eye

IAB Takes Another Step Toward Standardizing Selling and Buying of Premium Online Ad Inventory

apiIf you advertise your brand online, then you’re familiar with the challenges in buying and selling premium online ad inventory for advertisers and publishers. Last year, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo! and Yieldex started working on a standard API that would standardize buying and selling of premium inventory through programmatic technologies.

The group set a goal to shift more than 50% of inventory that was sold manually to programmatic trading. Ultimately, they hoped the shift would also cause a shift in how advertisers spend their budgets by moving offline advertising budget dollars to online advertising. On the publisher side, they hoped  the standardization would enable premium publishers to use programmatic technologies without damaging the premium perception of their own properties.

This week, a big step was taken in finalizing the standard API when the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released OpenDirect API Specification Version 1.0 for public comment.

Public comment will be open through December 3, 2014, so now is the time to read the 102-page document and have your say. Once the public comment period closes, the IAB Digital Advertising Automation Task Force will review all comments received and make any necessary revisions before a final version will be released.

According to the IAB, the goal of OpenDirect is to make automated transactions more reliable, which would benefit publishers through improved efficiency, reliability, pricing, and delivery. Scott Cunningham, Vice President of Technology and Ad Operations for IAB explained, “This common set of API specifications sets the stage for direct programmatic ad sales and will allow buyers who want to access guaranteed inventory via automated processes to avoid multiple, costly, custom integrations.”

Furthermore, agencies will benefit once publishers adopt OpenDirect through improved access to more unique users. They’ll also benefit from increased efficiency because they’ll only have to integrate one API across multiple platforms rather than integrating multiple APIs. Furthermore, agencies will be able to book guaranteed delivery to advertisers and provide access to media offerings that aren’t available through exchanges.

It’s important to note that OpenDirect prioritizes advertisers:

“The API takes an advertiser first approach. Both advertisers and agencies must sign up with the publisher and receive credentials. Advertisers may perform their own buys or provide consent to have an agency perform buys on their behalf; for an agency to perform buys on behalf of an advertiser, the advertiser must provide consent. The process of signing up and providing consent is publisher defined.”

What do you think of OpenDirect? Do you think it will gain wider industry adoption when the final API is released after the public comment and revision period ends? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Image: Dan Craggs

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.