6 Ad Units Win IAB’s Rising Stars Competition

Palm Springs, CA– The Interactive Advertising Bureau is betting that new ad units will make online display advertising more creative, brand friendly, and engaging.

The IAB on Monday selected six formats as winners of its “Rising Stars” competition. Among them are AOL’s Project Devil ads, Microsoft’s Filmstrip, and other large and impactful ad units. The ad types were chosen from 36 total submissions. 

In the coming six months, the formats will undergo further evaluation and may be named IAB standard ad units – a designation that would likely ensure wider adoption among publishers, advertisers, and agencies.

“The display advertising space is the third world of the advertising planet. There’s a huge rift between the haves and have nots,” said Peter Minnium, an agency executive who headed up the IAB initiative. Six percent of online display ads had a rich media component while the other 94 percent did not, he said.

Here is a rundown of the winning units:

Portrait: Originally known as Project Devil, AOL first introduced this 300 x 1,050 ad unit six months ago at IAB’s MIXX conference. Instead of running several smaller ads on a single page, AOL runs this single larger ad to reduce clutter and increase impact.


Slider: Ad agency Genex, working with Unicast and Mediamind, submitted this unit for consideration. An overlay appears on the bottom of a page and mimics a feature found on touch screens: users can slide the entire page over to view the ad.


Billboard: This ad unit, advanced by Google/YouTube, is also known as the masthead. It runs the full width of a page and can be kept open or closed by a website visitor. Cautioned one ad executive: “This masthead cannot be ignored. My hope is that we do not abuse it.”

Filmstrip: Microsoft submitted this 3,000 x 300 unit, viewable through a 300 x 600 window. It, too, can also be controlled by a website visitor. Jennifer Creegan, senior director, brand display, at Microsoft Advertising, said a Chevrolet campaign launching on Microsoft in April will feature this format.  

Pushdown: Pictela designed this unit, which includes a visual toolbar that permits an advertiser to dynamically revise the creative.


Sidekick: An expandable format, advanced by Unicast, pushes page content leftward, revealing a larger unit.


A business journalist asked whether the ad formats would command lower prices if they become an IAB standard and in effect, a commodity. Jeff Levick, president of global advertising and strategy at AOL, replied: “They are still premium units…they carry a higher value.”

Tweeted Pixazza Chief Revenue Officer Chas Edwards: “My reaction to new IAB formats is same as TV or print: When I like the brand and creative, I love the format. If not, format fails. #iabalm”

The IAB also said it’s retiring 11 of its 18 standard ad units.

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