Will publishers adopt them? Will consumers like them?
Now that the Interactive Advertising Bureau has identified six promising new ad units, the tough part begins: getting publishers and advertisers to adopt the formats and evaluate results.
The IAB will establish a compliance program to ensure that advertisers and publishers follow specifications for the formats, said Peter Minnium, who led the IAB's Rising Stars initiative.
One of the new formats is Google/YouTube's masthead, now called the billboard, that runs the full width of a page; it includes a "close" button if a website visitors doesn't want to see the ad. "That's the reason why it became a rising star. Creative people said it's cool because it has a close button," Minnium said. Without the "close" button, the IAB would not sanction the ad.
While Steve Robinson, CEO of Panache, an ad fulfillment software developer, applauded the initiative, he pointed out obstacles to adoption.
"The question becomes, how will publishers adopt and execute… It's very challenging to introduce formats into even a single site due to the complexity and high level of effort for ad operations and engineering," he said. "For the industry to embrace these formats, we have to make execution easier." And in a plug for his company, he said, that includes streamlining ad fulfillment.
An executive from one company, who asked not to be identified, said he was disappointed the new ad units did not feature formats that work with Twitter, Facebook, or other social platforms.
In response, Minnium said the goal of the Rising Stars program is to develop a range of options for brand advertisers. What's more, the six formats feature interactive elements to encourage user engagement. "Nothing happens in any of the units unless the consumer is in control," he said.
In the coming six months, the IAB will evaluate response to the new units. It will then decide whether to make one or more an IAB standard – which would likely lead to even greater adoption.
Rising Stars was launched six month ago to re-invigorate online display advertising, making it more attractive to brand advertisers. The IAB sought submissions from ad technology companies and ad agencies, and then asked ad operations and ad agency executives to evaluate the formats. The IAB received 36 submissions from 24 companies.
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Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.
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