How ads get tested before campaign launch – the QA process

Standard QA

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Once the creative agency production team have finished developing and “publishing” the *.SWF they must test it to make sure it works accordingly. This process is called “QA” (Quality Assurance) and it can be a complex undertaking if a lot of files are involved and the Advertiser wants to be very thorough about the final creative delivery. To be thorough there would mean three different QA processes that would occur in the lifetime of an ad:

  1. Local Machine QA by the creative producer
  2. QA in the third party ad server ad preview interface
  3. QA by the Publisher (to check it against the Publisher specifications)

The reason to do so many checks is that the *.SWF is being transported and embedded in an environment where there are a lot of other things going on (the Publisher website). Particularly when developing Rich Media ads, more can go wrong so a longer and a more stringent QA process is recommended. When it comes to the creation of Standard Display *.SWFs the development cycle will be much shorter and the ads far less complex. In instances where there are thousands of ads to check, step (2.) might be missed out entirely or the work out-sourced or undertaken by spot-checking the files. Typically a good creative production team will undertake the first QA check on this list.

When performing a QA the production team are checking that the creative is functioning and display as expected. On a local machine this can easily be achieved by publishing the *.swf file and viewing it in the browser window or in the authoring tool preview screen. A true QA involved checks that all the interactive functionality is working, that the ad has no excess loops or glitches and that it meets the lowest common denominator specifications for the Publisher. The most crucial check is the functionality of the ability to click, and the developer will encode this into the Actionscript of the creative. This specific script is called “the clickTag” and the third party ad server components ensure that the clickTag is always embedded in the creative from the outset of the production process behind the scenes. Despite this, the absence or incorrect coding of the clickTag is the most common reason that ads get rejected in the QA process in (2.) and this is because the clickTag code is still not standardised among the ad servers. It is a little different depending on which one gets used.

Further testing? The more testing the better, if the tag comes your way. Load it up in a browser and just check, from Advertiser through to user, if you see the ad, your opinion matters, so if you see a problem with the ad, taking a few seconds out of the process, flag it with the person that sent it to you and you just might save the day!

To find out more about the QA process and the roles and responsibilities undertaken to deliver an online campaign through advertising technology across all digital channels, get a copy of: Ad Serving Technology – Understand the Marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet – available now from Amazon:

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