IAB Updates Rich Media Guidelines

  |  February 13, 2004   |  Comments

The Big Three publishers give the new IAB standards for in-page rich media the thumbs-up.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) this week updated its rich media guidelines for in-page units, a long-awaited move backed by industry heavyweights America Online, MSN and Yahoo.

In addition to the Big Three, some 30 other players have committed to the new voluntary rich media guidelines (Version 2.0). The changes mostly involve adjustments to file sizes and also state the standards more simply. The update only applies to in-page ad units, however. For out-of-page, interstitial, over-the-page, and expandable units, the IAB is recommending companies stick to the guidelines issued in 2001 until it's able to develop new ones.

"The most important thing here is that AOL, MSN and Yahoo are on board," said Nate Elliott, who chaired the IAB rich media task force that wrote the original standards in 2001. Elliott is now an associate analyst with Jupiter Research, which shares a parent company with this publication.

"The IAB doesn't have the authority to enforce these standards. But with the Big Three on board, the rest [of the publishers] will probably fall in line," Elliott said.

According to the IAB, more than 30 industry players representing 65 percent of total advertising inventory are, or plan to be, in compliance with the new release. Beside the Big Three, publishers including About.com, CBS Marketwatch, DoubleClick, iVillage, Terra Lycos, Walt Disney Internet Group and USA Today have given the guidelines the nod.

When the IAB released the original rich media guidelines in 2001, the association said an update would follow in six months to a year. Instead, it's taken two-and-a-half years, and only half the guidelines have been updated.

Calls to the IAB were not returned by press time.

Mostly, the changes involve file size standards. In many cases the weights have been adjusted upward, perhaps reflecting the increasing penetration of broadband, which allows larger file sizes to be viewed more easily.

The standards are also stated more simply, a change lauded by Elliott and a spokesman for rich media platform vendor Eyeblaster. Paul Kadin, Eyeblaster's executive VP for marketing and strategy, serves on the task force.

"Rich media can be difficult and complex to deploy. Making the standards easier to understand helps enable people to get into rich media," said Corey Kronengold of Eyeblaster. Kronengold concurred that getting the Big Three on board will encourage application of the standards.

The IAB's Rich Media Task Force was chaired by David Shen, VP international products for Yahoo "It is gratifying that as an industry we have developed ... recommended guidelines that will enable buyers to build in-page rich media ads to a common set of specifications," Shen said in a statement.

IAB Rich Media Guidelines for In-Page Unit Size
Pixel Spec
(width x height)
Unit Weights Unit Timing
(initial load time)
Universal Ad Package Units
20KB (no Flash); 30KB (Flash)
15KB (no Flash); 20KB (Flash)
15 seconds
15 seconds
Other Units
5KB (no Flash); 5KB (Flash)
10KB (no Flash); 10KB (Flash)
15KB (no Flash); 20KB (Flash)
20KB (no Flash); 30KB (Flash)
30KB (no Flash); 40KB (Flash)
15 seconds
15 seconds
15 seconds
15 seconds


Janis Mara

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