OPA Hopes to Spur Greater Creativity with New Ad Units

The Online Publisher’s Association is hoping to promote creativity in digital advertising with a host of new ad units that will expand the interactive options available to marketers.

“We’re looking to try and deliver a platform that will really inspire creativity and provide an opportunity for the agency community to leverage the content environment that OPA sites deliver,” Pam Horan, president of OPA, said. “Rather than focus so much on moving the consumer off site, we are providing an opportunity for marketers to provide an interactive experience on NYTimes.com, CNN.com, etc.”

Among the new units being debuted are: the “fixed panel,” a 336 x 860 panel that looks embedded into the page and scrolls to the top and bottom of the page as the user scrolls; the “XXL Box,” which is 468 x 648 and allows users to actually turn “pages” and watch video; and the “pushdown,” which is 970 x 428 which opens to display a nearly full-page ad and then rolls up to the top of the page.

Each of the units will also contain a button allowing users to e-mail the ads to others, which Horan said was a function necessary to bringing advertising into the same class as other Internet content.

“We’re trying to inspire a creative renaissance, and we want consumers to be able to do what they do on other platforms, which is to share content,” she said.

The size of the ads is not intended to lead to more overall advertising on OPA sites, however. Horan said the hope is that the larger ads will actually lead to fewer units per page and less clutter.

So far, more than two dozen OPA members have agreed to debut at least one of the new ad units on their site by July 1. Among those participating are ESPN, The New York Times, MTV Universal, and Condé Nast Digital.

OPA is also devising a new series of metrics to measure the branding impact of display advertising rather than just clicks and impressions, though they will not be debuted for at least a few months.

“We are working with several research companies now to find out how we can supply the right metrics to branding campaign’s objectives,” Horan said. “Obviously if you’re doing a branding campaign you’re much more looking at how you’re shifting unaided awareness and those kinds of metrics, and the click model is not the most appropriate metric.”

“Pricing for the new ad units would be determined individually by OPA members.

The issue of creativity in digital advertising has recently become a central issue. Just last month, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, another association, opened its annual meeting by calling for interactive publishers to break away from their focus on direct-response advertising and give more thought to helping advertisers brand themselves online.

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