Study: Banners Still Dominate in Europe

Despite concerted efforts by industry leaders in the U.S. to encourage publishers to trade up to larger ad units, Europe continues to lag behind, according to research by German Web ad server ADTECH.

The firm, based in Neu-Isenburg, Germany, said it found that 60 percent of tagged advertising in Europe last month used the 640×480 standard banner.

Skyscrapers, large rectangles and similar large-style formats espoused by groups like the Interactive Advertising Bureau, on the other hand, accounted for less than 2 percent combined. Conversely, in the U.S., Jupiter Media Metrix found in March that the formats introduced by the IAB in February 2001 comprised about 9 percent in total — a year after their formal adoption by the trade group.

The IAB and its supporters championed the larger ad formats as being more noticeable and more conducive to rich media executions — which further increases the ad’s conspicuousness and, some think, branding power.

Despite the benefits of the now 18-month-old formats, ADTECH spokespeople said the company found that European publishers and advertisers continue to shy away from the units.

“Habits have still not changed significantly in comparison with the early phases of Web advertising,” said ADTECH spokespeople. “Dimensions for ad overlays are only adapted slowly by the industry. The new standards … such as skyscrapers and rectangles, find only limited uptake in the European advertising market.”

Instead, the company said it believed European advertisers and agencies were concentrating on developing better techniques for using the older units, in lieu of rolling out new sizes.

ADTECH, which didn’t differentiate between house ads and paid placements, also said it found that pop-overs, pop-unders, and DHTML “takeover” ads in Europe represented about 7.1 percent, combined.

The news reinforces conventional wisdom that the European online ad industry lags behind the U.S. by about 6 to 12 months.

In November, Web ad giant DoubleClick exited the European media space, citing losses and a harsh climate for advertising sales.

Still the region has proved lucrative to some media sellers: 24/7 Real Media said in April that its European unit had turned a profit. However, the company had struggled with the region only months earlier, when it shuttered its ad network there in August, 2001. (The firm re-acquired a presence in Europe following its merger with Real Media two months later.)

It’s also a hotbed of activity for the players in paid search, as both Google and Overture have opened sales offices in Europe during the past year, and are competing with each other for business from European portals, like Terra Lycos’ Lycos Europe.

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