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SHARC is ready: Write once, serve everywhere Ads 

One technology for secure web and mobile apps advertising

It’s been a big year for SHARC (Secure HTML Ad Rich-media Container). We conceptualized the SHARC in 2021 and released a draft for public comment in April, 2022. The feedback submitted from that comment period had us looking to add new features for rich experiences that demand higher premiums in display. We also looked to MRAID (Mobile Rich Ad Interface Design) as a guide for making it easier to implement one framework across web and mobile apps. The SHARC working group conducted a thorough review of the public comments and SHARC and MRAID standards. When we went back to our core product design principles, we ended up weeding out more than we added, creating this final version.

We went back to the drawing board to make it simple.

As a new solution to replace SafeFrames and MRAID, one that will undoubtedly breathe new life into display advertising, we wanted to start fresh and simple. We want to first support the most common display ad experience in the market–the simple banner that is served to web pages running in browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and in mobile apps running in native device platforms like iOS and Android apps. But we also wanted to support this simple banner in other environments and devices, like gaming systems and digital out of home (DOOH). 

And to do that, we needed a very basic foundation to start with. But we also need the ability to grow into the more advanced and sophisticated creative needs of the market. 

Today we release SHARC as a technical specification that we will use as a foundation to begin building an implementation framework in 2023. We have simplified its structure with a core set of features to support the most common use case while also making it extensible. SHARC extensions will enable the market to build and experiment with desired functionality. As certain extensible features become more adopted, they can be added to a set of SHARC-supported features.

What SHARC means for business: Scale for Publishers and Advertisers 

SHARC is simple and graceful. It is designed to execute ads in a secure environment and enable both publishers and advertisers to operate at scale. With SHARC implemented on publisher properties,  display inventory is safe and secure from unwanted and costly intrusion. Ads served to a SHARC-enabled ad placement cannot access page data or manipulate the page. This greatly reduces instances of publisher troubleshooting due to unwanted and non-permitted ad creative behavior. Publishers can implement one framework across web browsers and mobile apps, which will increase the scale of available inventory. 

As consumers increasingly consume SHARC-supported content across multiple systems, advertisers can build one SHARC ad creative that reaches those consumers regardless of the environment. This brings scale and efficiency to creative operations for agencies and advertisers.  

In 2023, the SHARC working group will begin building the implementation framework, sample ads, and other necessary tools and publish guidance, and educational materials for industry adoption. Ad creative developers will have a detailed guide for making their ads SHARC-enabled. Publishers will have the guidance on how to upgrade from existing Safeframes and MRAID implementations to SHARC and how to build extensions for advanced creative functionality.

What you can do now is get involved early

SHARC is going to change the way display is managed across all devices and environments. As an open source project, anyone can interact with SHARC on our GitHub site. Learn more about the SHARC project here and help us build SHARC and watch it take hold in the market. If you ever wanted to be on the ground floor of an initiative that helps shape the digital world, SHARC might just be the product you want to sink your teeth into.


Katie Stroud
Senior Product Manager
Ad Experiences
IAB Tech Lab