IAB Tech Lab launches OpenRTB 3.0 and accompanying specs

Newest version of OpenRTB to launch

The IAB Tech Lab and OpenRTB working group announced today (15 November) the launch of OpenRTB 3.0, the latest version of the transactional specification that aims to increase security and transparency in programmatic advertising.

New specifications AdCOM 1.0 and Ad Management 1.0 accompany the launch. Ad Management allows bidders to pre-register creatives with exchanges prior to running auctions.

AdCOM, or advertising common object model, must be used in conjunction with OpenRTB as part of the OpenMedia programmatic specification suite, according to the IAB.

Jim Butler, co-chair of the IAB/OpenRTB standards body, told The Drum this new version of OpenRTB meets the challenges of today’s changing programmatic ecosystem.

“The fact is, we have a much more complex supply chain these days. The previous versions of OpenRTB were workable, but this new version really tries to address and embrace [that complexity]. We're also trying to advance the ball in terms of fighting various forms of fraud, or opportunities for fraud. It doesn't solve everything in the fraud spectrum, but it advances the ball,” said Butler.

Butler, who is also chief technology officer, global supply platforms, at Oath, said the 3.0 version will reduce advertisers’ need to use JavaScript, where he said malware can hide.

One new part of OpenRTB 3.0 is ads.cert, which allows buyers to prove the origin of an ad impression. Ads.cert will run in concert with last year’s rollout, ads.txt, but remains in beta.

IAB Tech Lab and OpenRTB group will collaborate to help in industry adoption and create guidance documentation throughout the first quarter of 2019.

Butler said a major challenge to adoption is the lack of backward compatibility, but the groups have worked to address that concern.

“I would emphasize that despite it not being backward compatible we really are trying to get it so that there is as low an adoption barrier as possible. A lot of us will be contributing utilities of one kind or another to help in that process.”

Butler said he and his peers will be calling for companies to contribute experiences, documentation, and possibly open source code to help the buy and sell sides better navigate and adopt the new version of OpenRTB.

The rollout also expands support into native and digital out-of-home channels. Butler said OpenRTB has always served display, mobile, video, and native, though there were always separate native specifications. Now native has been made a “first-class citizen.”

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