MRAID

March 13, 2018
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Glossary

What is MRAID?

The Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions system, or MRAID, is an Application Programming Interface (API) designed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Like the IAB’s Video Suite tools, the MRAID protocol is designed to work across different mobile operating systems and app environments. This streamlines the ad creation and distribution process for mobile advertisers, cutting down on production costs and ad development time.

First launched in 2011, MRAID has seen two major iterations over the years. The first version of MRAID, dubbed 1.0, focused on serving expandable ads to different mobile apps. MRAID 2.0 built upon the initial MRAID version’s capabilities, incorporating controls for full-page, multi-part, resizing, and interstitial ads.

The current protocol, MRAID 3.0, includes rich interactive functionalities, enhancements to users’ ad experience, and improved ad performance metrics. Support for interactive ads has also been fully integrated into the protocol, with previous VPAID supplements for MRAID now folded into the main MRAID 3.0 feature set.

How Does MRAID Work?

Like online video ads, those served in mobile apps require coordination between two different entities. In the case of mobile ads, the software development kits (SDKs) used for developing the app might not always be compatible with those used for crafting the ad itself. The diversity of the coding languages used for apps in various mobile operating systems – Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android, and so on — makes the problem especially intractable for mobile advertisers. Typically, these advertisers would ensure successful ad execution by creating different ad versions for each app being targeted.

Like the IAB’s VAST protocol, MRAID provides a common language for writing and interpreting the commands that specify how apps should handle and execute an ad. As the IAB envisions it, MRAID attempts to serve as a “write once, run anywhere” standard that guarantees ad compatibility with a broad range of mobile apps and SDKs. In its current iteration, MRAID works with Javascript and HTML5, allowing advertisers to execute interactive or rich media ads efficiently on mobile platforms. Additionally, MRAID 3.0 remains backwards compatible with previous MRAID versions, making for a smoother transition between versions.

[image: MRAID diagram]

What Can It Do for You?

Like VAST, MRAID presents similar benefits for advertisers working with a diverse set of mobile apps and operating systems. These benefits boil down to two main points: scale and efficiency.

With MRAID, mobile ads can be expected to work with any MRAID-compliant app. This virtually eliminates the issue of compatibility, leaving mobile advertisers free to distribute ads in a wide range of apps without worrying about successful execution.

Likewise, the guarantee of interoperability means advertisers no longer have to create multiple versions of the same ad for distribution across multiple apps. This ultimately results in a much more efficient ad creation and distribution process, as well as in lower production costs for advertisers.

A valuable corollary to both these advantages is the greater potential for advertising revenue. With an expanded field of possible distribution channels and a more cost-effective ad production process, MRAID makes it easier for advertisers to earn from more sources without suffering increased operational costs.

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