Insertion Order (IO)

An insertion order is the final step in the ad proposal process; when an insertion order is signed, it represents a commitment from an advertiser (or their agency) to run a campaign on a publisher’s site(s).

An insertion order will generally contain all the details surrounding a spend, in order to avoid any confusion about what the advertiser will be paying for. These details typically include the following for each line item that makes up the campaign:

  • Start date
  • End date
  • Ad unit dimensions
  • Impressions to be served
  • Pricing structure
  • Total cost

An insertion order also includes a spot for representatives of both the publisher and advertiser (or agency) to sign and date to confirm the agreement.

Related: How to Get Started with Adsense Course

Insertion Order Responsibilities

An insertion order can be prepared by a publisher, advertiser, or agency. If the advertiser is represented by a large agency, that agency will typically prepare the IO. If there is no agency involved or if the advertiser is represented by a smaller agency, it may fall upon the publisher to prepare the IO to be signed by the advertiser.

An insertion order is the final confirmation that a publisher has won a spend from an advertiser. There are a few additional things to know about this document:

  • In a perfect world, an IO will basically mirror the proposal submitted. But when the agency prepares an IO, the publisher should review thoroughly to make sure there are no major changes to the proposal and that the publisher will be able to deliver all the contacted placements.
  • Most line items on a proposal should be pretty straightforward. But if there is any confusion about what is being delivered, clear it up before the campaign begins. Otherwise, there may be questions and delays when it comes to billing.
  • Come up with a way to store any signed IOs in an organized way. You will inevitably need to reference again in the future, and it will pay off to have an organized storage system.

Sample IO

If you’ve been asked by an advertiser to prepare an IO, but aren’t quite sure where to begin, we can help out with a reusable template. This Excel file is a simple but completely usable insertion order that can be sent to advertisers once completed.

Example of an Insertion Order (IO)

Insertion Order Best Practices For Publishers

  • Insertion orders can be created by publishers, advertisers, or agencies. Generally, the agency takes responsibility to document the IO. however, if no agency is involved, either publisher or advertiser can prepare the IO
  • Insertion order is designed to be straight forward. However, if anything causes confusion, it’s advised to clear it up before signing the IO and beginning the campaign

  • It’s important for publishers to know their inventory. Do not oversell it by showing more impressions than you actually receive. Instead of giving a fixed number, publishers should specify a range based on historical data
  • IO is the documented proof of the ad proposal. Before signing it, publishers and advertisers should review it thoroughly to avoid disagreements. 
  • For publishers, it’s ideal to store insertion orders in an organized way. This can help them later in the future when they’re needed for reference or audit purposes.