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OpenRTB Native 1.2 Adds Dynamic Creative/Third Party Ad Serving Support

By Curt Larson

I’m happy to announce that the OpenRTB Native Subgroup has released version 1.2 of the OpenRTB Native Ads API Specification for a 30-day public review period ending May 17, 2017. Major enhancements include support for third party ad serving, privacy flags, and new event tracking options.

The Native Ads subgroup of the IAB Tech Lab’s OpenRTB Working Group was first formed in May 2014 to develop a standard for companies interested in an open protocol for the automated trading of Native Ads. Since the 1.0 release in early 2015, shepherding in the era of programmatic native, we have worked to provide further standardization and capability–first with 1.1 which added new context fields and standardized asset types–and now with 1.2.

The headline feature in version 1.2 is dynamic content / third party ad serving support. Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is an important part of the ad ecosystem, and is especially well-suited to native since the creative is already decomposed into elements like headlines and thumbnails. Yet, only DCO companies that were also the bidder were enabled in prior versions of the native spec. The addition of support in 1.2 opens up a compelling new use case for native and we expect to see rapid adoption by DCO companies and their clients. In fact, several working group members are already busy building to the upcoming spec.

Byron Ellis, CTO at Spongecell, helped bring this proposal to the working group. “Here at Spongecell, we’re very excited to see the introduction of the third party ad-serving specification for OpenRTB Native. Our customers often ask us how they can use the assets and learnings from their display, video and mobile campaigns in these new native formats. They will now be able to extend to native formats seamlessly with the full fidelity of personalization and optimization that they have come to expect from a dynamic creative platform and provide the rich and engaging experience their customers have come to expect.”

Two other features of note have been added: Support for privacy flags has been included, which allows sellers and buyers to indicate who has included privacy notices in the ad placement. Finally, we’ve enhanced our support for event tracking–supply sources can now declare what events they can track and demand sources can request those events to be tracked in a structured way beyond the impression–including viewability events.

These three major changes, along with some minor fixes and enhancements, have been tracked in the Change Log within the specification document. The OpenRTB Native Ads API Specification is available here.

Public review on the OpenRTB Dynamic Native Ads API Specification Version 1.2 is open until May 17, 2017. Comments can be sent to


Curt Larson, VP Product at Sharethrough, and Co-Chair of the OpenRTB Native Subgroup

IAB Tech Lab also would like to acknowledge Neal Richter, co-chair of OpenRTB, and additional members listed in the Native working group for their contributions in developing Native 1.2.