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IAB Guidelines & Technical Standards For Digital Advertising Formats

Jul 13,2023
Amy Mazzola


In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital advertising, it is crucial to have guidelines and standards in place to ensure a seamless and user-friendly experience across different formats and channels. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is at the forefront of developing and providing these guidelines through its IAB Tech Lab. Below, IAB Europe has compiled a collection of the current guidelines for the different digital advertising formats and channels. 

In addition to format guidelines, at the end of this page is an overview of IAB Tech Lab’s technical guidelines. These technical standards and solutions were developed to support a healthy and sustainable digital media and advertising industry. This includes addressing consumer privacy and identity, advancing advanced TV, combatting ad fraud, and ensuring transparency and security within the supply chain.

By adhering to these guidelines, advertisers, publishers, and other stakeholders can enhance their digital advertising strategies, provide a seamless user experience, and build trust with their audiences.


IAB Ad Format Overview - Comprehensive guide for Digital Advertising

The IAB Tech Lab released the IAB New Ad Portfolio in July 2017. The New Ad Portfolio guidelines replaced all previous creative display guidelines for desktop and mobile—including rich media units, Universal Ad Package (UAP), and other ad units related guidance.It provides comprehensive recommendations of advertising experiences across diverse digital landscapes including websites, mobile apps, social media, communication, and messaging experiences as well as new digital experiences like virtual reality and augmented reality. It includes best practices and ad specifications for a range of creatives:

The guide also includes LEAN principles for user intent and use privacy that represent a guideline for a complex of Lightweight, Encrypted, AdChoices supported and Non – invasive advertising and express the following attributes: Respect, Control and Choice.

Since the publication back in 2017, an FAQ document has been created to include any new updates.  


Digital video and CTV

With the surge of growth in Connected Television (CTV) in recent years, In 2022, the IAB Tech produced an updated version of the Digital In-Stream Video and CTV Ad Formats guidelines to account for the growing use of CTV products as part of the video ad landscape. The specifications outlined in this document have been updated to support the growth of CTV in the digital video marketplace, as well as the advances of new technologies that have emerged. With cross-screen ad execution in mind, provisions have been made for various file types and video qualities.

Publishers should use these guidelines as a resource for providing creative submission requirements for video ads. Video Ad developers should use this document as a reference for baseline ad development specifications. Creative agencies, studios and video ad technologists, as well as video ad-serving partners should use this document as a reference for digital video ad specifications.


Digital Video In-Stream Ad Format Guidelines

The digital video marketplace includes platforms that extend to mobile, television, and an array of other technologies and devices. The specifications outlined below have been updated to support cross-screen ad execution, and provisions have been made for varied quality files that improve “intelligent” selection in vendor-served ads (3rd party) and server-side ad stitching practices. Supporting the need for high-quality video files has also been a key focus in this update. 

In order to simplify the digital video advertising buying and selling process, the Digital Video Committee of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has developed these guidelines and best practices for the most common current in-stream ad formats, including: Linear video ads; Non-linear video ads and Companion ads. There are three types of recommendations contained in this document for each ad format: Ad Format guidelines; Common creative submission recommendations and Additional best practices.


The Games and Esports Advertising Framework

In 2021, IAB worked with its members and industry partners from the UK, Europe and US to create a unified advertising framework for gaming and esports. The aim of this framework is to enable further growth of the gaming ad market in a sustainable and efficient way, ensuring that key terms are standardised and that there is shared understanding within the industry. 

The framework can be used by anyone who is currently buying, selling or looking to buy/sell gaming ad inventory. Its primary use will be for brands, agencies and publishers - who may not currently use gaming-related terms every day - but will increasingly need to communicate with one another as the gaming ad industry grows and becomes a more important part of their businesses. The framework is numerically coded and split into ‘user’ and ‘viewer’ categories, then via sub-categories. This enables you to quickly scan sub-category headings to identify terms that you are looking for. If you’re brand new to the gaming space, it may be useful to read through the entire framework to understand what options, categories and capabilities are available. If you have experience of the gaming ad market, specific terms are defined here which have been agreed upon to become common language for the space.


IAB Tech Lab - Technical Standards

IAB Tech Lab produces global technical standards and solutions to build and support a healthy and sustainable digital media and advertising industry.

Their key areas of focus are:

  • Creating a portfolio of technical standards to balance consumer privacy and addressability through our work related to identity
  • Developing technical standards that are needed to accelerate the ongoing growth of Advanced TV
  • Advancing and producing technical standards to combat ad fraud, supply chain transparency, and security

Here you can find their full suite of digital ad standards, initiatives and products mapped to their area of focus.


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IAB Europe is the European-level association for the digital marketing and advertising ecosystem

IAB Europe
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