Internet Advertising Bureau
Technology Interoperability Subcommittee


Status Report

IAB TIS Status Report TIS-status-19970630

Latest version:
This version:
Tom Shields <>

Current Status

The IAB TIS has come to the realization that the Internet Advertising Report Format is only one part of a complete solution for providing agencies with report data from ad serving sites.  Other required parts include a transport protocol (such as HTTP or email), tools for parsing the IARF into databases and spreadsheets, and further investigation into the requirements from agencies for particular features of a complete solution.  In order to establish a baseline from which to work, we have officially ratified the IARF as a standard format that will be used to represent report data, and frozen the proposal so that implementation can begin.  If the subsequent parts of the solution require changes to the IARF, those will be incorporated into a future version.

The IAB TIS is committed to providing a complete solution to the industry for this problem, and therefore has also decided not to publish widely the fact that the IARF has been ratified.  Once the other parts of the solution are decided and in place, then a public announcement will be appropriate.

The next steps for the IAB TIS are to research and propose the remaining parts of the ad reporting solution, including choosing a transport protocol, developing freely available tools for parsing the IARF, and ensuring that the solution meets the requirements of agencies, advertisers, ad serving tools, and sites of various sizes.

IARF Executive Summary

The Internet Advertising Report Format is a file format for describing internet ad performance data.  The format is designed for both simplicity and power, making it easy to get started today, but leaving plenty of room for expansion as new ad media become popular.  With this adoption of this format, agencies can receive reports from many web sites and easily import the data into their systems for comparison across sites.  Sites, for their part, can construct all of their reports in one format, making it easy for them to provide reliable, timely ad performance information.

The standard is broken into two major sections.  The first is a description of the file format syntax, the actual order of the bits and bytes of the file so computers can easily understand the data.  The second part is a "taxonomy" that describes the semantics of standard headers, columns, and report templates, so everybody can use the same words to describe the same things.

The report format has the following design goals:

  • Simple to get started with one of several standard templates
  • Extensible to add new metadata, columns, and complete report templates
  • Expressive to handle a variety of data types
  • Complete to address the immediate needs of advertisers, agencies, and ad delivery systems
  • Robust to handle localization and character escaping issues
  • Efficient to provide varying levels of detail and aggregation
  • Self-describing to permit generic tools for analysis and conversion
  • The report format is designed to be used with a variety of other systems to provide a complete solution to the problem of delivering interactive ad performance information to advertisers and agencies.  In particular, the standard makes no attempt to define the performance measures used by advertisers, agencies, and ad delivery systems, except to provide for the reporting of them.  This proposal explicitly does not address the issue of how to send the data, for example from a web site to an advertiser or agency.  This format does not define how to display the reports, and is designed to be readable, but not camera ready.

    Proposed Future Topics

    This section lists future topics that have been proposed for consideration by the IAB TIS.  Any IAB TIS member may propose items for this list.  Inclusion on this list does not imply that the IAB TIS will actually consider a particular topic.
  • Benchmarks for ad serving tools
  • Standard pre-buy information formats, such as online media kits
  • Inter-tool communications protocols, such as trafficking information
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