Mercedes to Run on NYTimes, WashPost Tomorrow

Mercedes is set to launch its oversized Online Publisher Association standard ads on NYTimes.com and WashingtonPost.com tomorrow. E-Class ads will run on the New York Times and Washington Post homepages for one day only. And, in addition to those placements, the OPA units will be seen September 15 on Reuters.com and September 22 on WSJ.com.

The OPA announced today that Brands from Frito-Lay to Mercedes-Benz will use the organization’s new ad formats, devised in part to help publishers better monetize their content through premium ad placements. (Check out a recent ad for Garnier using a new OPA format.)

Bank of America, Frito-Lay, Mercedes-Benz, hospital Cleveland Clinic, and insurance provider CNA are among brands that have used or plan to use the formats. The units do things like expand briefly before collapsing back to a smaller size, or moving up and down as the user scrolls.

In promoting its Mercedes-Benz 2010 E-Class vehicles, the automaker has employed various rich media formats to exude the brand’s high-tech features. “We’re tying that association with our vehicle and expressing the latest technology as well,” Mercedes-Benz USA Digital Media Specialist Beth Lange told me earlier today. Razorfish Seattle developed the digital campaign, which also includes 3-D units.

The question is how are the OPA ads any different from any other rich media ad unit? According to Lange, the standardization is a key factor. Publishers, she explained, “were very concerned about the user experience and not being intrusive, and they wanted a standardized format.” Although other large rich media units have been available in the past, she continued, they “may not correlate to a good user experience.”

Of course, premium ads in premium placements on premium sites cost money. “When you go for these more high profile placements,” said Lange, “there always is a higher premium than a standard run-of-site. I think if you can obtain a good user experience and a stronger position its worth paying for.”

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