6 Practices for Creating Effective Insertion Orders: Tips for Publishers

Effective Insertion Orders

In the dynamic world of digital advertising, the insertion order (IO) stands as a cornerstone, facilitating a structured and mutually beneficial relationship between publishers and advertisers. 

But what is an insertion order? In a nutshell, these documents not only serve as binding agreements between publishers and advertisers but also ensure that ad campaigns are executed smoothly and efficiently. 

As the digital landscape evolves, it’s essential for publishers to adapt and refine their approach to IOs. 

Here are six best practices for creating effective insertion orders.

1. Clearly Define Campaign Scope and Objectives

The bedrock of an effective IO is a comprehensive outline of the advertising campaign’s scope and objectives. Detailing the campaign’s goals, ad specifications, and targeted placements ensures that both parties have aligned expectations.

It’s not just about stating what the advertisement will entail; it’s about capturing the essence of the campaign’s vision, ensuring the ad resonates with the intended audience and aligns with the publisher’s content.

2. Establish Transparent and Fair Pricing

Pricing models within IOs should be transparent and beneficial to both parties. Publishers need to offer competitive yet fair rates for ad impressions or clicks, reflecting the value of their audience and platform. This transparency in pricing helps foster trust and can set the foundation for long-term relationships with advertisers.

3. Set Explicit Flight Dates and Contact Channels

Timing is critical in advertising, and IOs should specify the start and end dates of campaigns clearly. This temporal framework not only ensures the synchronization of marketing efforts but also helps with the precise measurement and evaluation of campaign performance. Additionally, providing clear contact information for queries or concerns underlines a publisher’s commitment to accessibility and problem-solving.

4. Detail Creative and Technical Requirements

A successful ad campaign hinges on the seamless integration of creative content with technical specifications. Publishers must specify the requirements for ad materials, such as formats, dimensions, and file sizes, to prevent any potential hiccups that could derail a campaign’s launch or progress.

5. Outline Billing and Payment Terms

Financial clarity is vital. An IO should articulate how and when payments will be made, detailing any advance payments or milestones that trigger invoicing. This financial roadmap prevents disputes and ensures both parties are on the same page regarding fiscal expectations.

6. Incorporate Reporting and Review Protocols

An IO should not just mark the launch of a campaign but also guide it to success. It should include mechanisms for regular reporting and review, allowing for real-time insights into campaign performance and enabling data-driven decisions to optimize ad delivery.

In addition to these six pillars, it’s crucial to note the inherent benefits of IOs: precision in deliverables, flexibility to adapt to changing conditions, and the potential to foster rapport between publishers and advertisers. With these benefits in mind, publishers should also consider the following to bolster their IO strategy:

  • Prevent discrepancies: Use historical data to set realistic benchmarks for impressions and CPMs and account for possible fluctuations.
  • Ensure legitimacy: Confirm the credibility of any intermediaries involved in the IO process to avoid disruptions in meeting campaign parameters.
  • Maintain documentation: Keep a well-organized record of all signed IOs, with digital backups, as these documents serve as legal validation of the agreed terms.

Pros of Insertion Orders


An IO provides certainty for both the publisher and advertiser about the deal’s specifics, such as pricing and campaign duration. This pre-agreement on crucial details can prevent future conflicts and misunderstandings​.


The direct negotiation possible with an IO allows for a tailored approach to advertising needs. Publishers and advertisers can fine-tune the details, such as ad placements and formats, to suit the unique requirements of each campaign​.

Building long-lasting relationships 

IOs pave the way for developing deeper, more meaningful relationships with advertisers. Unlike the fleeting interactions in ad networks, an IO signifies a commitment that can grow into a fruitful, long-term partnership, enhancing the potential for repeat business and consistent revenue streams​.

Cons of Insertion Orders

Challenges with programmatic adoption 

With a significant shift toward programmatic advertising, traditional IO can sometimes lag in terms of efficiency and optimization. Programmatic platforms often provide a more straightforward, automated approach to ad buying and selling, potentially leading to IOs being less utilized, especially for smaller publishers.

Time-intensive manual process 

Crafting an IO requires time and attention to detail, involving negotiations and discussions that can be labor-intensive. This manual process can divert resources from other critical tasks, such as content creation or strategy development​.

Decreasing prevalence

The rise of programmatic direct and other automated ad-buying methods has led to a decrease in the use of traditional IOs. However, for larger publishers with significant ad revenues and direct campaigns, IOs remain relevant and vital for ensuring control over ad sales and maintaining premium ad pricing.


By embracing these best practices and maintaining a flexible yet structured approach, publishers can craft IOs that not only meet the current demands of the advertising landscape but also anticipate future trends and challenges​. 

That being said, the world of advertising is expected to grow as technology and automation advance, as 77% of users reported an increase in conversions after using marketing automation software​, making it crucial for the future of digital advertising.

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