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IAB Tech Lab Releases Two Major Updates to OpenRTB

By Melissa Gallo

Ensuring that technical standards keep up with the shifting programmatic buying landscape, the IAB Tech Lab is releasing two important updates for public comment: the OpenRTB 2.4 protocol and the OpenRTB Dynamic Native Ads 1.1 extension. The 2.4 version of OpenRTB offers a myriad of improvements including the ability to declare skippable video ads, new fields in the bid-response, and support for digital audio. The Dynamic Native Ads API 1.1 marks first update to the OpenRTB native addendum since it’s introduction to the marketplace in early 2015. The protocols were developed by the OpenRTB Working Group and OpenRTB Native Subgroup, respectively.

OpenRTB has allowed for programmatic buying to dramatically scale by reducing friction in the marketplace and providing a common language for DSPs and SSPs to trade on new and innovative ad formats. In 2015, OpenRTB 2.3 and the Native extension introduced a groundbreaking industry standard allowing for the purchase native ads through real-time bidding.

Here are the main advancements featured in OpenRTB 2.4:

  • Digital Audio Support – Creation of new audio object that will support both the DAAST & VAST protocols.
  • Video Skippability Support – OpenRTB 2.4 supports skippable in-stream video advertisements.
  • Introduction of Encryption – OpenRTB now recommends the support of both HTTP & HTTPS.
  • Increase Location Features – Allows buyers to know when which IP source was used to derive a given geolocation and when the lat/long was last fetched using the device Location Service.

The OpenRTB Dynamic Native Ads API 1.1 includes market-demanded improvements and  features corresponding to the IAB Deep Dive on In-Feed Ad Units; released July 2015:

  • Creative element standardization – Includes the creation of two new fields; Context (describes the type of content surrounding the ad on the page) & PlacementType (describes the format of the ad being purchased).
  • Articulation of native ads sequence – Provides further clarification for DSPs to bid for specific slots within the feed.

“Since 2011, the OpenRTB standard has been adopted by hundreds of companies to facilitate buying and selling digital media. This v2.4 release specification includes the largest set of new features and enhancements of any new version to date,” said Jim Butler, VP Mobile Exchange Technology at AOL Platforms and co-chair of the OpenRTB Working Group. “It is also the product of the greatest level of community participation in recent memory; an indicator that it will continue to be a key enabler of the programmatic ecosystem.”

“It’s been thrilling to see the growth of the OpenRTB project from a small group of six startup companies to an IAB sponsored project with a mailing list including 487 product managers and technologies from nearly every company in ad tech,” said Bill Simmons, CTO of DataXu and co-chair of the OpenRTB Working Group. “OpenRTB 2.4 includes important improvements in how we handle private marketplace auctions, native advertising, and, for the first time, digital audio advertising.”

The public comment period will run through February 19, 2016, after which the OpenRTB Working Group and OpenRTB Native Subgroup will evaluate the comments received, make any necessary revisions, and release a final version of each corresponding protocol. Comments will be accepted via email at


Melissa Gallo
Senior Director, Product