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Last modified: September 01, 2005
AdsML Consortium


The AdsML Consortium was formed to create a "comprehensive, global standard for end-to-end advertising workflow. The initiative is supported by Ifra, an international association for media publishing, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), and Nihon Shinbun Kyokai (NSK). In principle, AdsML covers the means by which data is exchanged for all kinds of advertising, in all media and through all stages of the lifecycle of an advertisement. AdsML will apply to all sectors of the advertising industry, enhance the efficiency of the advertising process and facilitate integration at systems and data levels. The proposed XML-based standard seeks to make the best use of other existing and forthcoming standards, while adding AdsML-specific support to crucial processes in the advertising lifecycle which are not now served. Membership in the consortium is open to organizations working in the advertising supply chain, software manufacturers, and related consultants and associations." Supporting companies include [2003-05]: Agfa, Associated Mediabase, CCI Europe, Engage, Iware, Mactive, Press Computer Systems, RivCom, Rosetta, and Vio Worldwide. [adapted from the Website homepage]

About AdsML Version 1.0

AdsML 1.0 builds on the capabilities of CREST, AdConnexion and SpaceXML. CREST is a U.S. standard for classified ads, while AdConnexion is used for transactional data for display ads in Europe. SpaceXML is a general standard for media advertising. AdsML 1.0 will also include processes for inventory management, invoicing, and billing. The scope of AdsML 1.0 covers (1) Printed advertising in newspapers, magazines and inserts to these publications; (2) New media, including online advertising, including banner and popup advertising, as well as advertising that forms part of the core content of a Web site [classified ads]; (3) E-mail advertising; (4) Advertising by SMS, MMS or other mobile technologies. The following lifecycle stages are representative of those that fall within the scope of AdsML 1.0:

  • Booking (Inventory [Inventory enquiry; Notification of inventory availability; Reservation of inventory; Acknowledgement of reservation], Pricing, Price enquiry, Price response, Provision of preview)
  • Order (New order, Change order, Cancellation, Acceptance of order, change or cancellation, Rejection of order, change or cancellation - with reason, Request for content elements)
  • Production, including Content creation (Design instruction, Reception of content elements, Build, Proofing, Approval) and Content transmission (Delivery notification, Content delivery, Collection instructions, Acknowledgement of content arrival, Confirmation of conformity, Copy chasing)
  • Publishing (Publication/run instruction, Confirmation of publication/run)
  • Feedback on responses (Actual response, Response statistics)
  • Payment (Prepayment with order, Invoicing, Statements, Contract reconciliation, Payment orders )

[adapted from the website description 2003-05]

AdsML Version 1.0 Deliverables

"AdsML 1.0 will consist of the following deliverables:

  • A set of business process models and related documentation that describes the business processes supported by AdsML, and includes a definition of common process models for the workflows of selected advertising classes (AdsML Business Processes).
  • An XML message format that enables the efficient packaging, transmission, verification [the process of verifying that transmitted content conforms to a formal or informal agreement between trading partners], validation [the process of validating that transmitted content conforms to the relevant standard], and routing of the advertising content and related metadata required in order to execute the AdsML Business Processes (AdsML Envelope).
  • A set of guidelines, recommendations and requirements that describe when and how to use existing content and metadata standards (e.g., AdConnexion, SPACE/XML, and other advertising-specific or non-advertising-specific standards) to represent the advertising content and related metadata required in order to execute the AdsML Business Processes.
  • A set of guidelines, recommendations and requirements that addresses identified deficiencies and overlaps in the ability of existing content and metadata standards to represent the information required in order to execute the AdsML Business Processes. These will fall into at least two categories, viz:
  • Guidelines, recommendations and requirements for system designers and implementers that explain how to make the best use of existing standards within the AdsML Framework.
  • Recommendations to advertising-industry standards development bodies identifying gaps and overlaps that currently exist in their standards and requesting that these be addressed in the next round of development. A definition of AdsML conformance and a mechanism for establishing whether a given system is 'AdsML Conformant'."

The Twofold Goal of the AdsML Initiative

An AdsML article by Dean Roper and Tony Stewart "AdsML Will Help Fill Gaps -- Quickly" explains the two specific goals of the AdsML Consortium, and elaborates upon the structure of the "Envelope" and "Response" messages first to be released. Excerpts (adapted):

The twofold goal of the AdsML initiative is to "(1) provide an XML packaging mechanism that allows business partners to exchange information in a more efficient way; (2) converge and rationalise the existing standards for such information (e.g., AdConnexion, SPACE/XML, CREST, etc.) in order to reduce overlaps and inconsistencies between them and ensure that there is a recognised way to interchange each type of required information."

The AdsML 1.0 spec targeted for release in October at IfraExpo 2003 in Leipzig "will take a big step toward simplifying the exchange of information by releasing standards for the AdsML 'Envelope' and 'Response' messages. See the diagram). This Envelope provides a straightforward or easy-to-implement packaging mechanism for exchanging advertising information in XML messages."

"When an organisation receives such a message, it can use the information in the Envelope header to perform the first line of required processing: make sure the message comes from a trusted sender, make sure that the types of information in it conform to any business agreements between the sender and recipient, make sure that it 'understands' and can process this information, and then prioritise and route the information to the appropriate internal systems (such as a booking system, a page layout system, or an accounting system). If the information in the Envelope does not meet the recipient's requirements, the AdsML Response mechanism will provide a standard format by which the recipient can inform the sender of the problem."

"The underlying design concept here is that the meaningful information or business objects (called 'AdsML Items') contained within an AdsML Envelope are themselves XML documents which could, in theory, have been sent as stand-alone messages. In fact, that's how they are arriving now in systems that have been built to support such messages, since of course there isn't any AdsML Envelope out there... The problem that arises is that as trading partners start exchanging more and more different kinds of messages, using various XML standards for them, it can be a huge and expensive hassle just to build routing systems that can receive all these different types of messages and decide what to do with each one. The Envelope and Response mechanisms in AdsML 1.0 make this problem go away by providing a standardised way to wrap each Item with the information necessary to verify and route it. Implementors can build this system just once, and know that each time they add a trading partner that is AdsML compliant, they don't have to tweak or rebuild their message routing systems."

From the AdsML Consortium Charter

AdsML Consortium Mission: "To create an internationally-adopted set of specifications and associated business processes for the electronic exchange of business information and content for advertising, to simplify and accelerate business interaction and facilitate use across multiple media in both current and future environments."

AdsML Consortium Vision Statement: "Advertisers and the media that distribute their content have a common interest in the use of effective business processes. The transition of these activities to an electronic environment based on computer-to-computer interaction will allow advertisers, the media and intermediaries to create value and reduce costs. Standardized electronic processes for handling booking and insertion orders, delivering intellectual property, rendering invoices, managing materials, and verifying use and transmission will shorten deadlines and time to market, save time and money, improve communication, reduce errors, enhance business relationships and create new opportunities."

AdsML Consortium Scope: "AdsML covers the workflow, file formats, and related information required to exchange advertising business documents and advertising content among advertisers, intermediaries, and media distributors. It covers the process areas of planning, ordering, material management, production, invoicing, and contract reconciliation including related change cycles. It is applicable to all media including print, broadcast, and online. AdsML is intended to be useful in local, regional, national, and international advertising activities. It is intended to be standards-based, flexible and extensible, including the ability to maintain relevant content lists without changing the specification."

AdsML Consortium Deliverables: "AdsML Consortium specifications may be in the form of XML structures with accompanying data definitions (e.g., XML DTDs, XML Schema, XML files) or using other standardized descriptive methods. The AdsML Consortium will deliver:

  • Specifications describing AdsML data formats and the processes that they support
  • Controlled vocabularies for specific uses of AdsML
  • Documentation: written documents explaining the Specifications
  • Recommendations for use of the Specifications
  • Sample files exemplifying the use of the Specifications

[adapted/excerpted from the website document]

From the RivCom Product Brief 'Associated Newspapers/AdsML Consortium': "The AdsML consortium of news and media publishers wants to increase profitability through the creation of an XML-based standard to support all processes in the development and publication of advertising materials... RivCom has been commissioned by Associated Newspapers to provide a Project Office to coordinate all aspects of the consortium's activities, and is chairing the Technical Working Group responsible for developing the standard and the Process Working Group responsible for developing the consortium's internal business processes... In this ongoing project, the technical approach has been determined and work is proceeding on the business process models and technical documentation that will comprise the standard..." [2003-05]

AdsML description from Rosetta: "Rosetta is a founder of the ADSML consortium. The AdsML vision is wide-ranging, covering in principle all types of advertising content, in all media, and through the lifecycle of an advertisement. The resultant AdsML framework is applicable for use across all sectors of the advertising industry, enhancing the efficiency of the advertising process and facilitating integration at systems and data level. To achieve this vision, AdsML has evolved through a series of staged iterations in which successive versions of AdsML were developed and released, each version built on the last and progressively contributing to the completion and achievement of the AdsML vision. Individual AdsML iterations sought to solve identified business problems, thereby ensuring delivery of short as well as long-term value. Versions are released at regular intervals, facilitating the use, adoption, and support of AdsML by users, implementers, and vendors alike..."

Principal URLs

Articles, Papers, News

  • [August 03, 2005] "AdsML: The Long Road from Concept to Implementation. Part 1." By L. Carol Christopher. From The Seybold Report Volume 5, Number 09 (August 3, 2005). ['L. Carol Christopher breaks down the bulky stack of AdsML documentation to describe the current standard, including the AdsML Framework and the goals of the AdsML Consortium. Part I of a two-part series that defines the potential of AdsML job tracking and how to get ready to adopt it.'] "At this point, AdsML is an enormous stack of documents representing uncountable hours of human intellectual labor by an international consortium that wants to provide an electronic soup-to-nuts standard for moving every piece of data related to an advertisement through every step of its life cycle. You would be surprised to see just how many steps that life cycle can be broken into. The success of this optimistic effort remains to be realized. But AdsML also presents a picture of how technology works and about the people, cultures, politics and economics of various groups that create a context that pushes something abstract down one path instead of another, with what will eventually yield material consequences yet unforeseen. In this issue, we'll break down the bulky stack of AdsML public documents (and some unreleased) to describe the standard: the AdsML Framework and the goals of the AdsML Consortium (, a group perhaps best described as 'independent, incorporated in GermanyC9 supported by NAA and Ifra as sponsors, and by Associated Newspapers of Great Britain, Agfa and Time Inc. as strategic partners,' according to Sue Fine, manager for technology communication for the NAA and a press officer for the consortium... AdsML is defined primarily as an XML-based business tool that facilitates business and technical cooperation in the so-called advertising supply chain. Technically, it is a data exchange mechanism that supports 'trading partners' as they swap data throughout the 'advertising and advertisement' life cycle across all media. Those events might include everything from campaign planning, determining available inventory, booking, delivery, publication or broadcasting, performance reporting, invoicing, payments, claims processing and account reconciliation. The consortium's plan is to make AdsML flexible enough to adapt to changing business demands and technology, which could mean that its end stage of development is situated somewhere just this side of infinity, global warming notwithstanding. It will be open source, royalty free and technology-independent, and will have specific requirements for moving data around between 'trading partners,' the latter two characteristics being arguments against trying to adapt older standards — proprietary or vendor-defined formats — to a broader range of capabilities and needs..."

  • [November 04, 2004] "AdsML Bookings Specification Released for Public Review. Comprehensive Specification for Newspapers, Magazines. Second Release for AdsML Framework is First in Suite of Standards to Address a Discrete, Advertising-Industry Business Process." - "The first process-specific standard in the AdsML Framework's suite of standards was released here today for public review and comment. The AdsML Bookings Specification, which is complete for the industry's print media, enables advertisers and publishers to query, make and confirm ad space reservations for ads appearing in newspapers and magazines... By implementing the AdsML Booking Specification, advertisers, publishers and others involved in the booking process will be able to request and receive quotations, make and confirm reservations, and change and cancel orders. Bookings and content can be linked, which will increase accuracy. The information necessary to place and produce an ad — including information on placed-by, insertion period, advertiser, booking party, publication, price and production details — can be nested in the AdsML Framework, sent electronically and read by the receiving party. All this will happen automatically, without high levels of human intervention or increased risk of human error... The 'AdsML Framework for E-commerce Business Standards for the Advertising Industry' is a group of intra-active standards, now in development, that will govern the discrete business processes associated with the beginning-to-end lifecycle of any advertisement. The specifications will, in time, set the rules by which all forms of advertising are exchanged electronically. The standards also will communicate with each other within the AdsML Envelope. The AdsML Envelope, which is the foundation standard of the AdsML Framework, is defined in AdsML 1.0, which was released for public review in October 2003 and approved in June 2004... The mission of the AdsML Consortium is to develop a global, XML-based (eXtensible Markup Language) standard that will unify and extend existing advertising standards and automate advertising business processes _EMMM across all types of media, for all stages of the lifecycle of an advertisement, across all segments of the advertising industry. It is supported by Ifra, a leading international association for newspaper and media publishing, and the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), which represents more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. The IDEAlliance, a membership organization advancing standards and best practices in publishing and content-driven enterprises, also is a Consortium supporter. The Consortium's strategic partners are Agfa, Associated Newspapers, Ltd., and Time, Inc..."

  • [November 03, 2004] "AdsML Passes Key Hurdle." By Steve Edwards. In Seybold News and Views on Professional Publishing Tools Vol 10, Number 05 (November 3, 2004). "AdsML, the project to standardize the handling of advertising material for publication in all forms of media, has passed a key hurdle with the release two process-specific standards. The AdsML Bookings Specification addresses the complete process of booking ads to appear in the print editions of newspapers and magazines. The AdsML Structured Descriptions Specification consists of a schema for XML messages, a human-readable rule set and a process for converting back and forth between them. This standard, which will apply to both classified and display advertisements, governs how ad content is identified, such as a classified ad selling an automobile versus one selling real estate. The specifications encompass requesting and receiving ad quotations, making and confirming ad reservations, and changing and canceling ad orders. The standards also support the nesting of additional information necessary to place and produce an ad, including who placed it, the insertion period, the price, production details, and the identities of the advertiser, booking party and publication. The booking information for an ad can be linked to the ad's content to help ensure that they are matched up accurately. Because much of this process will happen automatically, the risk of human error is reduced. All of this information can be sent electronically, which is a critical consideration as the use of digital technology increases and the need for communication among disparate industries and devices grows... According to Tony Stewart, chairman of the AdsML Technical Working Group, the Bookings Specification will replace CREST (Classified Remote Entry Standard for Transmission), the North American standard for classified advertising owned by the NAA. In addition, NAA and the International Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEAlliance) have agreed to merge the capabilities of their jointly owned SpaceXML standard for display advertising with AdsML standards- writing efforts, and Ifra will fold AdConnexion, a European standard, into AdsML..."

  • "AdsML Will Help Fill Gaps -- Quickly." AdsML article by Dean Roper (Editor of newspaper techniques) and Tony Stewart (Director of Consulting, RivCom Ltd). May 2003. See the diagram for the AdsML "Envelope" and "Response" messages.
  • [March 07, 2003] "Minimizing the Paper Trail, Step by Step. The Advertising Department is the Latest Paperless Battleground." By John Bryan. In NAA TechNews (March 07, 2003). "... As big a deal as XML is, you'd think everybody would be champing at the bit to adopt it as a standard. Alas, not so. On one hand is the Ifra AdConnexion project in Europe, which is based on XML (and awaiting adoption as a standard). But on the other, says Carr, are outfits such as the recently folded Mediaport consortium, which was supposed to become an alternative media management system to the well-entrenched Donovan Data Systems. 'They were trying to create their own standards, and they were just spinning their wheels,' Carr says, adding that the venture cost at least $45 million before its demise last summer. So the time has come, Carr says, for the various flavors of XML to be sorted out (hopefully by NAA) and then for the major players such as Donovan, Atex, and Admark to adopt them. NAA and Ifra have founded the AdsML Consortium to reconcile standards and work to get them implemented internationally... 'The technical barriers are pretty low,' Carr says. 'The others are financial and political - who pays for what, that kind of thing.' The important point, Carr says, is to keep the standards open and available to all comers without financial strings attached. 'We don't want another toll-taker on the data highway between us and our customers. There are already enough'..."

  • [May 07, 2003] "AdsML for Advertising, So That the Press Won't be a 'One-Legged Man'." From 09/05/2003. "The idea [XML for advertising] has been the object of numerous exchanges during the annual IFRA Expo in Barcelona, in October, 2002... The consortium is lead by the IFRA (the world's leading association for media publishing. whose members include both suppliers and users) and the NAA (Newspaper Association of America). Contacts have also been established with the NSK, the Japanese association of newspapers. The first objective of the project, named AdsML, is to obtain a worldwide approval for a standard, in the same way of NewsML developed by the IPTC (International Press Communications Council). The consortium is therefore seeking the support, on a worldwide basis, of the professional associations, the communication agencies, the publishers and the systems suppliers. According to Allan Marshall, general manager of Associated Media, based in London: 'Advertising needs a whole series of standards allowing an effective way of handling the exchanges of data between the various systems of the commercial channel'. The purpose of AdsML is not limited to the printed media. The specifications should be convenient not only for the printed products, but also for the advertising broadcasted by television and radio networks, the mobile technologies, the Internet, and within the framework of advertising campaigns by means of posters or on the movie theater screens. The various modules of AdsML should encompass rates, media plans, booking, production, scheduling, invoicing and payment control..."

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