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AdsML Standard -- Opening an Envelope

October 2003
By Marie Alonso

Business Development Consultant

AdsML is a major step forward in the 15-year quest of media to complete the process of business-to-business communication of advertising documents. Essentially an XML "envelope"—the AdsML Framework—this new standard will not replace existing standards targeting electronic relays of print publication advertising transactions. What it will do, however, is help these existing standards communicate more effectively, resulting in a new potential for today's publishing community.

Today, advertising data can be re-keyed as often as 15 times per ad, according to a recent European study. Not only is this massively inefficient, but each time the data is re-entered, the opportunities for errors increase.

This is the reality of life in the publishing community. Insertion orders must be tracked, invoices must be cataloged—a surging river of paperwork must be tamed, or at least monitored, to ensure that publication advertising is an orderly, controlled process.

This is the way the advertising process in the publication world worked yesterday, continues to function today and will steadfastly exist tomorrow.

Or maybe not. . .

In August, the AdsML Standard—in development since the beginning of the year—was released for beta review. Based on the widely used eXtensible Markup Language (XML), AdsML 1.0 is an international, open standard that aims to streamline and automate the placement, transmittal, publishing and invoicing of advertisements. The process is now cumbersome, error-prone and unsuited to the rapid, fluctuating needs of a multimedia advertising environment.

AdsML is designed to surmount present difficulties. For example, AdsML 1.0 cuts data entry to one time only. The benefits to the industry will be significant: accelerated processing will shorten the time from insertion to publication, transactions will be more error-free and business opportunities will grow as ads are re-purposed across different advertising platforms.

What AdsML means for the business of advertising is that ads will more likely run when they should, where they should and exactly as they should, each and every time. Revenue now lost through breakdowns in processes that are complex, disconnected and subject to complications and inefficiencies, will be recaptured to instead raise profits.

The specification will provide standardized electronic processes for all sectors of the advertising industry. Its use will shorten deadlines and time to market, reduce errors, improve communication, save time and money, and enhance business relationships. The effect on media environments will be profound.

Under AdsML, inventory, insertion and billing processes will be streamlined, and business operations will become more efficient and accurate. The XML-based standard will not—yes, not—replace existing standards (such as SpaceXML and AdConnexion; see sidebars), but will build upon them and extend their reach, encourage convergence when they overlap and plug gaps between their specifications.
 

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