IAB Expected to Approve New Ad Sizes

Spokespeople from the Internet Advertising Bureau confirmed Thursday that the IAB is set to announce new advertising guidelines early next week.

The IAB is keeping quiet on exactly what those guidelines will be. However, several reports have suggested that they might incorporate large, box-style ads similar to those recently unveiled on several publishers’ sites, including CNET, The New York Times Digital, iWon.com and internet.com. Internet.com is the parent of internetnews.com.

If so, the move marks a swift and decisive sanction for ad types that only began to appear since the beginning of the new year. The IAB last recommended guidelines in 1996, supporting the now-ubiquitous 468×60 banner ad, and several common button sizes.

Since then, the online ad industry has taken a precipitous downturn, and a move like this by the IAB could represent an effort to promote ad types that “work” — or at least appear to work better to revenue-strapped publishers and marketers concerned about banners’ low clickthroughs (and unconvinced about their branding capability).

Several online marketing firms have come out in support of the much-maligned standard-sized banner — including Real Media and Avenue A, which produced studies that supported banners’ branding ability. Admittedly, both firms have an interest in promoting impression-based reporting as the dominant model (as opposed to cost-per-click or cost-per-action). Even the IAB itself has come out in favor of banners as a branding tool in a recent study.

Nevertheless, as times have changed, publishers have become increasingly driven by lower CPMs to ditch the banner as the sole way of monetizing their inventory. And as a result, they’re gambling that new ad formats are the next big thing.

Several of the new formats incorporate rich media animation and in-ad browsing (that is, a user can click in the ad for more information, which loads in the ad space rather than taking the user to a new site,) unlike most banners — allowing readers to get more information without leaving the publisher’s site.

In addition, many of the new ads allow for the tracking of user interaction with the creative, giving advertisers metrics other than clickthrough with which to judge their success.

CNET’s ads — which NYTD also adopted — are sized about 300 x 300, while internet.com’s Flash ads are 360 x 300.

In addition to its 206 x 287 oversized box ad, Irvington, New York-based iWon also rolled out personalized banners that include iWon members’ names, and Flash-based animation that appears on top of content. For example, a current promotion for Amazon.com displays an animated “Shop now at Amazon.com” on top of iWon’s news headlines. After a few seconds, the words shrink back into an Amazon.com oversized box ad on the side of the page.

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