Definition of Screenshots
Images of an ad appearing on a publisher's site, often sent to the advertiser or agency shortly after a campaign begins.
Screenshots in Depth
Agencies and advertisers will often ask publishers to provide screenshots of line items in action shortly after a campaign begins. This may seem like an unusual or complicated request, but it is actually very straightforward and simple. When a request for screenshots is made, the agency literally wants you to send images of the relevant ads running on your site.
If, for example, you work for CNN and have Southwest as a client, they would want you to send over something like this:
Note that the image above includes a visual of the ad, confirming to the advertiser that the campaign is running.
Screenshot Origins & Necessity
Once upon a time, when media buys consisted primarily of print placements, advertisers could simply open up a magazine or newspaper and see their ad. That doesn’t quite work for online display ads; each ad impression is transient in nature, meaning that is viewable only for a limited amount of time. As such, many advertisers like to see visual confirmation that their campaign is running as contracted.
Screenshots are typically unnecessary, since agencies that utilize third party tags are able to confirm that the ads are running. However, many agencies with this capability still like to see screenshots.
It is also possible, of course, for advertisers or their agencies to capture and prepare the screenshots (it is possible for anyone with access to a web site to record a screenshot, just as we captured a screenshot of CNN.com above). However, this request is often passed along to publishers and falls upon them to complete.
Larger sites may have an entire role (or multiple positions) dedicated to client support tasks such as screenshots. For smaller publishers, this task may fall upon the sales rep.
Screenshots are generally requested for each line item on an IO. So if a campaign included 10 different line items, the request would be for 10 different screenshots. If a single page contains multiple ad units–such as a homepage takeover–a single screenshot should generally suffice.
Many advertisers will request that screenshots be inserted into a PowerPoint deck before being sent to clients. For others, simply attaching image files is acceptable.
Taking and sending screenshots is a manual process. While it can be done by using the Print Screen function and default programs such as Paint, there are some better programs out there.
Awesome Screenshot (link below) is perhaps the best free tool for capturing screenshots. It can be installed as a Chrome browser extension, and includes features that allow users to edit the captured image with text and shapes: