Forbes.com Offers Half-Page Ad Format

Forbes.com said on Thursday it would join NYTimes.com and CBS MarketWatch in offering a half-page ad format.

The business news site said the format would give advertisers a better avenue for getting their message across with a bigger palette, measuring 368 pixels by 850.

“We’re pleased to be one of the first — if not the first — online destinations to implement the new ad unit, which enable advertisers to expand their messages with larger and more noticeable real estate,” said Jim Spanfeller, Forbes.com’s chief executive and president.

New York Times Digital (NYTD) announced the format two months ago, saying it would give readers an experience similar to a newspaper or magazine in which a text faces a full-page ad. By taking up the right half the screen, NYTD said the ad unit struck the balance of giving advertisers more space for innovative creative while not annoying readers.

CBS MarketWatch also endorsed the format, which NYTimes.com rolled out earlier this week as part of a site re-design with ads from MCI and Verizon. Yesterday, NYTD’s Boston.com debuted the ad unit with a TNT pitch. CBS MarketWatch followed suit, offering the same unit on its site earlier in the week.

The Forbes.com half-page unit is 50 pixels longer than that offered by NYTD and CBS MarketWatch.

The ad is a combination of two successful large formats: the large rectangle and the skyscraper. It follows the trend of publishers offering fewer but larger units on a page. According to DoubleClick’s fourth-quarter ad serving trend report, skyscrapers were second most popular unit, accounting for 8.3 percent of total volume. The use of large rectangles grew 300 percent over the year, although it still represented just over 2 percent of total ads served.

These larger formats still represent a relatively small minority of ads. Despite many reports of its demise, DoubleClick tracked the much-maligned 468 x 60 banner as accounting for half of all ads it served. However, the trend toward larger units has been undeniable. In its suite of standard ad units rolled out in December, the Interactive Advertising Bureau shifted toward larger units, noticeably leaving the banner out of the four endorsed sizes.

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