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The World of Online Advertising Part 4: Insertion Orders and Creative Approval

We’re entering the home stretch now with the fourth post of our five-part series involving the world of online advertising. We’ve already dealt with advertisers, publishers, and rich media formats, and it’s time to go even deeper and provide you with a little insight on two linked topics — Insertion Orders and Creative Approval. Think of it as a kind of “behind the scenes” look at how ads go from concept to website.

Insertion Orders

As anyone in the DMV or local court can tell you, the world is run by paperwork. Everything needs some kind of form to fill out. The world of online advertising is no different. When an advertiser wants to submit a campaign to a publisher, he or she must fill out information online concerning the campaign before everything can start up. This online documentation is known as an Insertion Order, or IO, and there is no uniform documentation to file since the needs of each website may be a little different. However, there are a few common elements — the “3 Cs” —  in almost every Insertion Order that you can expect to find:

  • Contact Information — This is self-explanatory and, hands down, the easiest part of the entire process. Contact information is typically split into two types. The first is your technical contact, i.e. the person or department that the publisher can contact to help deal with potential issues concerning the creatives. We’ll discuss creatives below, but this can mean problems such as incorrect ad sizes, codes that aren’t functioning properly, etc. The second type of contact information is even simpler. This will be your billing contact, who will deal with any payment or accounting issues.
  • Creatives — These refer to the creative elements of each campaign, and will include details such as ad format, ad size, ad dimensions, and other pertinent specifications. The IO filled out by the advertiser will provide details as to any limitations the publisher may have in regard to file size sizes, acceptable file formats, etc. This helps streamline the process, as it avoids a campaign being submitted with elements that cannot be run on the site. And finally, the advertiser might be asked to indicate the number of desired impressions for each creative or ad dimension that the advertiser is submitting to the publisher.
  • Campaign Details — This serves as an overview of your campaign. Basically, an advertiser will be providing information such as the campaign’s start and end dates, the total number of impressions, the desired location on the site to run the campaign, geo-targeting, keyword targeting, date & time targeting, and similar details. Providing all of these specifics will ensure that the campaign has a lower likelihood of speed bumps along the way and that the campaign will be properly run by the publisher.

Creative Approval

Almost every publisher has their own standard approval process for the submission of advertising campaigns. During this process, every detail of your campaign will be checked for proper sizes, dimensions, file formats, etc. They’ll also test any complex rich media that’s been sent to them through a simulation environment that acts just like their live website. This will help ensure that the ads run properly once they go live. And lastly, the people involved with the publisher’s creative approval process will judge the material on its content so that it doesn’t include any objectionable material that doesn’t fit with the site’s ethical standards. Once everything has been checked, the campaign will be either accepted or sent back to the advertiser for needed changes.

While it probably isn’t likely that you’ll be directly involved in Insertion Orders and Creative Approval, it’s a good idea to have at least a glancing knowledge of these subjects. As they say, knowledge is power, and it only help to improve the way that you do business.


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