How OpenRTB 3.0 can clean up the programmatic ecosystem

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2017 is shaping up to be the year programmatic tightened its bootstraps. Earlier this year, the IAB Tech Lab led an initiative to help combat fraud with ads.txt. And in September, they released the draft framework for OpenRTB 3.0 for public comment. Since the OpenRTB framework came into the world in 2010, the industry has grown and changed so immensely that previous iterations don't have the capacity to support the surge of programmatic buying and selling.

The overhaul proposed by RTB 3.0 will help clean up and clear out the clutter in the programmatic ecosystem. First, it will optimize the framework for industry growth, and, second, it will provide new safeguards to fight fraud in the industry.

What does it do?

RTB 3.0 will address the volume of activity throughout the supply chain. It will reduce duplicated information, like publisher IDs and content categories, as well as introduce a layered approach, which will alleviate the volumes of traffic that cause latency. It won't feel like cramming six people into a cab anymore; the new framework promises faster processing.

In what should prove to be a boost to the ecosystem is RTB 3.0's fraud fighting capability. The new framework will require that each entity in the supply chain signs off on each impression they touch. Publishers and vendors need to add an encrypted ID on an impression so buyers can trust the supply source, which combats domain spoofing, location fraud, and device fraud.  With this new digital signature, buyers will be able to verify a site's specific inventory.

Some assembly required

Unlike previous updates to Open RTB 2.0, the 3.0 flavour will require some serious effort from engineers and developers to overhaul the underlying code in order to provide encrypted signatures for the impressions. This will be the tricky part because it will take exchanges time to do the actual restructuring and implementation of the new framework.

Getting RTB 3.0 implemented will be the biggest challenge, but the benefits will surely pay off down the road. The new framework affords flexibility and growth as the industry continues to evolve. In addition to an optimized solution for header bidding, RTB 3.0 will be able to support new kinds of programmatic buying and selling like content sales, product recommendations, connected TV, and more.

Transparency and control for publishers

In addition to the fraud safeguards that protect everyone, publishers will get much sought-after transparency and control over the creatives served on their sites. A new feature will allow publishers to check creatives being served, and reject them if they don't meet publishers' criteria, such as ads that might affect brand safety.

Coming in 2018

The framework for OpenRTB 3.0 is in draft for public comment until December 15, 2017. After feedback is assessed by the IAB Tech Lab's working group, a final specification will be released in the first quarter of 2018.

The climate is right and the desire for this kind of overhaul is pervasive in the ecosystem.  Publishers are wanting more clarity and advertisers are demanding more safeguards that their budgets aren't going to fraud. The OpenRTB 3.0 specifications will help address both of these issues, while helping to re-establish much needed trust within the ecosystem.