Ad serving insights: Ad invocation codes and placement tags.: February 17, 2013 by Maciej Zawadziński Chief Executive Officer
Ad invocation codes (called also placement tags or ad codes) are a bit different from web trackers covered in an earlier post. Their main task is to load a creative (an ad) into the placement on a website or in an app. Additionally they usually are responsible for cookie management, impression tracking, ad rotation, visibility tracking and other tasks.
There are three main types of ad codes used in web display advertising:
Another advantage is that web browsers comply to the same origin policy which prevents accessing the publisher domain information (especially the parent frame) from a 3rd party domain script (in this context – the ad tracker).
So why isn’t it the only method used?
The main issue with the iframe tags is that they cannot embed expandable/resizable banners and rich media ads. They also make much harder tracking ad visibility and running ad verification services.
There is a workaround called a frame buster, but it requires the publisher placing the frame buster code on his domain for every ad network he wants to support.
A sample workflow of ad server using iframe tags with a frame buster:
In short, the SafeFrame is based on the three core components:
As the SafeFrame is a topic for another post, I am not going to cover it in more detail from technical perspective (for more information, see the SafeFrame information page).
It’s very promising standard that is worth keeping an eye on. However, the standard has still several problems serious problems mentioned in this review. To summarise them quickly, the main issues are:
An ad tracker may be a way complex and do much more than I mentioned in this post. Some of these activities include: cookie respawning, monitoring engagement of the user with the ad, or how much of the video ad user watched, monitoring the ad visibility or finally rotate the ad (request another ad for the user from the ad server and replace currently displayed ad) after certain amount of time.
Recently there is a lot of discussion around viewable ads as well as ads shown above the fold (that are visible for the user without scrolling through the page). These ads are much more effective, but it’s also worth to note that on cluttered with content pages, viewable ads not necessarily have much better results.
Post illustration credit: IAB