Adobe has recently launched a SaaS offering that helps businesses conduct A/B testing for rich media advertisements, which take into consideration various network- and hardware-based factors, such as CPU usage and user experience.

A Platform for Testing Online Advertisements

Project Adthenticate was created with the intent to help ad agencies and publishers test and certify rich media advertisements to ensure efficiency and appropriateness, given differences in devices and target audiences. Currently available in public beta, the hosted service lets users test ads against 2011 Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) specs. Adthenticate has the following features:

  • Dynamic validation -- Adthenticate inspects ads in a hosted, browser-based environment to ensure that ads are tested with the intended audience in mind, and not decompilers and static SWF file inspection tools.
  • Standardized CPU usage metrics -- The service uses consistent CPU usage measurements for consistency against the bigger ad ecosystem at-large. Otherwise, ad agencies, publishers and quality-control teams will have to compare results using different devices with varying CPU usage patterns.
  • Advanced instrumentation -- Adthenticate can detect requests for animation, tracking pixels, animation and clicks.
  • Rich media rules -- Adthenticate lets publishers set rules about different ad triggers, including user-initiated, "polite" and obtrusive or auto-play. This enables publishers to fine-tune their control of the ad experience as these ads are approved.
  • Web service API -- Adthenticate includes an ad validation engine that can be accessed as a web service. This feature can be integrated as a publisher-side feature for testing ads as these are ordered. With the API, developers can also integrate Adthenticate into their custom ad creation tools.

Finding Balance Between Advertisers and Publishers

The IAB guidelines for online advertisement calls for "positive consumer experiences," which mean advertisements should be visible but not obtrusive, rich but not something that ruins the user experience because of the need to utilize too much resources. Adthenticate lets advertisers and publishers do media-based ad testing right on their web browsers, either through local file or through an ad URL.

Adthenticate will then conduct its performance and user experience tests, after which a chart will display how the ad fares against standards, in terms of measurement, file size, frame rate, animation duration, sound and the like. A performance monitor also plots CPU usage for the duration of the ad, which will help ensure that ads will not be too taxing on end-user computers. 

The public beta release of Adthenticate is a free service from Adobe's Project Adthenticate website. Users will need an Adobe ID to access the application. Users can also upload an existing ad unit to test against IAB guidelines. Adobe promises additional features once the commercial version is released.