IAB Releases Rich Media Specs

Continuing efforts at boosting the medium’s appeal to offline marketers by fostering more compelling animation, sound and video in Web ads, the Interactive Advertising Bureau on Monday released guidelines for the use of rich media in online advertising.

The New York-based industry association, which represents sellers of online and emerging media advertising, outlined file size specifications in rich media banner ads, as well as in more recently adopted standards — the IAB rectangle and skyscraper. The new guidelines, which are voluntary but widely accepted, also include specifications for pop-up and interstitial ads.

The effort continues earlier efforts begun by the IAB to create more effective advertising units. In Mach, the IAB released guidelines for ad sizes — creating larger, more obtrusive ads.

Now, by setting standards and making ad creation, buying and sales easier, the new formats aim to smooth out some of the obstacles hindering the spread of rich media advertising.

“Previous IAB voluntary guidelines have focused on size,” said IAB president and chief executive Robin Webster. “These new rich media guidelines encourage adoption of interactivity within the ad units.”

Promoting rich media is considered especially important by the revenue-strapped industry, as it’s seeking to attract deep-pocketed traditional advertisers by pointing to Web ads’ branding ability. Earlier this year, the IAB and several industry leaders sponsored studies that suggested that ads with animation, video, sound or interactivity significantly (and quantifiably) impact brand awareness and purchase intent.

“Recently released research findings from the IAB, CNET Networks, Inc., DoubleClick and MSN, reinforce earlier research from Ipsos-ASI that both size and interactivity are important,” Webster said.

The specifications were put together by a task force co-chaired by DoubleClick rich media manager Nate Elliott and CNET vice president and “Crusader” Bettina Fischmann Stiewe. In creating the guidelines, the IAB task force said it worked with ad agencies and rich media technology vendors to hammer out mutually acceptable standards.

Maximum initial load size for rich media ads (not including streaming content)
Standard banner ads 15k (up to 100k after mouseover or click)
Rectangle (336×280, 300×250, 180×150 or 240×400) 25k (plus up to 3 additional 50k loads, after mouseovers or clicks.)
Skyscraper (120×600 or 160×600) 20k (plus up to 3 additional 50k loads, after mouseovers or clicks.)
Pop-up (250×250) 20k
Pop-up (550×550) 100k
Interstitial (336×280) 20k

Additionally, banners can “drop down” to 468×240 on mouseover, or when a user clicks. (In the event of a mouseover, the ad will auto-close when the cursor moves off the ad. For ads that open when a user clicks, it will remain open until the user clicks a close button.)

The rules also preclude an ad from using video or audio that launches immediately upon load, and require require a “skip ad” link on interstitials.

The IAB said the task force would reconvene in six to 12 months to consider appending or revising the guidelines.

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