Advice issued for agencies and media owners

Members of the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) have agreed to go ahead with a launch date of 1 April 2006 for an industry policy for dealing with late online advertising creative, announced in January 2006.

Following consultation with agencies via IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) Digital, media owners felt that sticking to the 1 April deadline underlines an industry standpoint that has been clearly messaged to the industry by the IAB and AOP since January, and fair to those publishers who have been clearly communicating their intentions for late copy. However, the associations are advising those members that have not yet communicated their policies to allow a month’s grace between formal communication to senior members of agency staff and the commencement of charges.

Managing online inventory is complex and, with some websites now reaching sell-out, it is important that creative is received and tested in time in order to deliver campaigns in full. Online publishers continue to strive to provide the best client service and it is hoped that these guidelines will provide the foundation for efficient and effective practices.

As trade bodies, the IAB and AOP can endorse an umbrella policy that recommends the format that a charge for late copy should take, but competition law prevents the bodies dictating that media owners must enforce it. However, broad consistency has prevailed as nearly all media owners are following the pro-rated down impressions route* with lead-times in accordance with existing IAB workflow guidelines, with the exception of a minority choosing to charge a fixed fee. Details of how each media owner plans to implement the policy feature on the AOP and IAB websites**.

Media owners will endeavour to get the late creative live as soon as they can, thus minimising the charge. AOP and IAB are recommending that if charges are to be incurred, communication is made at the time of the offence and to a senior agency contact.

Some media owners have already quantified the cost of late creative to their businesses during the three month test period since January 2006. Faye Weeks, head of strategic sales at Wanadoo, reported that late creative appears to have affected less than five campaigns in February 2006, and two per cent of the media owner’s revenue. This indicates that the scale of the proposed charges will not prove as great as agencies might fear.

Advice for agencies for avoiding late creative charges:
• Allow sufficient time for testing at the media owner’s end, in accordance with IAB workflow guidelines**
• Submit generic creative assets to media owners in various formats that can be used in place of late creative until it arrives.
• Communicate with third party specialists who may require extra time
• Plan any complex counting procedures, multinational campaigns and campaigns that include research surveys into delivery schedules and agree a revised set of deadlines well in advance of the campaign

Advice for media owners:
• Communicate your policy and updated terms and conditions well in advance of enforcing charges, in writing and to senior agency contacts
• Ensure that communication of charges is made at the time of the offence
• Ask agencies to supply you with generic advertising that can be used in place of late copy
• Use Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) or public service creative as a placeholder
• Follow IAB industry guidelines for workflow best-practice

Alexandra White, director of AOP, said: “Late creative has had a significant impact on media owners’ online businesses. We hope that these best practice procedures will lead to more efficient workflow practices.”

Guy Phillipson, chief executive of the IAB, said: “This was never going to be an easy initiative, but the guidelines are clear and we're pleased to note that there is a very high level of consistency between the media owners' individual policies. These are posted on the IAB and AOP websites along with helpful information regarding copy supply leadtimes.”


*The policy
Creative, correct to publishers’ specifications, should be delivered to the media owner within the standard IAB guidelines of three to five working days depending on format or to publisher specific guidelines. The industry bodies have agreed that charges will be made for creative received after 12.00 on the day before the campaign start date.

Charges will be at the publisher’s discretion and could take the form of:
• Fixed charge
• Full cost of campaign invoiced with impressions pro rated down for each day creative is not live

** Web links
AOP website link:
IAB website link:
IAB workflow guidelines:

About AOP
The UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) is an industry body representing online publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of approximately 160 publishing companies from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media. Together they publish around 1,828 publications and reach of 68 per cent of the internet population. (Nielsen/NetRatings, quarter ending Dec 05)

Members include Associated New Media, BBC, BSkyB, Capital Radio Group, Channel 4, CNET Networks, Condé Nast, Dennis Interactive, The Economist Group, Emap,, Future Publishing, GCap Media, Guardian Unlimited, Haymarket Publishing, Independent Digital, IPC Media, ITV Online, News International, Reed Business Information, Reuters, Telegraph Group Limited and Which?. In addition, PPAi (Periodical Publishers Association Interactive) retains a corporate seat on AOP board: representing the interests of magazine publishers online.

About the IAB
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is the trade association for online advertising. With over 200 members, it's run for the leading media owners and agencies in the UK internet industry. Online is an exciting and fast-growing medium and our job at the IAB is to work with members to ensure marketers can identify the best role for online, helping them engage their customers and build their brands. Through the dissemination of research and the organisation of regular events, we aim to put online on the agenda of every marketer in the UK, acting as an authoritative and objective source for all internet advertising issues.


Charlotte Hanson
immediate future Ltd.
0845 408 2031

Published on: 12:00AM on 14th March 2006