WindWire Unveils Wireless Ad Standards

Wireless ad network and technology firm WindWire Tuesday took the wraps off its set of standards for wireless creatives, saying it’s given its standards to the Wireless Advertising Association for consideration.

The WAA, an industry consortium and a unit of the Internet Advertising Bureau, already has standards on privacy and spam, but has yet to come to a consensus on creative elements, like banner sizes. The lack of industry-wide standards is due partly to the number of players in the field, the infancy of the mobile ad industry, and the variety of publishing platforms — which include Internet-enabled PDAs, two-way pagers and a host of mobile phone types.

Morrisville, N.C.-based WindWire’s proposed standards include “best practice” guidance for text, banners, interstitials and audio ads.

Text messages, such as SMS messages or in-content text banners, should be less than 40 characters on a phone, and 60 characters on a PDA, according to the specifications. Banners ads should be 153×15 on a PDA, or 60×20 on a phone, while ad “button” sizes should be 45×45 on a PDA, and 32×32 on a phone.

Interstitial ads, according to WindWire’s proposal, should have some sort of delimiter to distinguish it from content, a maximum length of five seconds, and a feature allowing viewers to skip the ad entirely.

Audio ads, under the guidelines, should be either five-second introductions preceding audio content. “Click-to-hear more information” content should be either 15 or 30-second creatives, since consumers are already used to those durations.

While the WindWire standards haven’t been officially approved by the WAA, they’re gaining support from at least some of the industry association’s membership.

“We are glad to see that Windwire and the WAA are taking the lead to set standards,” said Fred Burke, research development director at advertising technology firm Interadnet, a WAA member. “By setting and adopting creative standards now, many of the related problems we experienced in the wired environment will be avoided in wireless.”

A spokesman from the WAA said that within the next several months the association should be able to decide on the standards it’s going to recommend to member companies and would be considering WindWire’s submission. WAA guidelines are voluntary.

WindWire said its wireless advertising standards are based on its trial conducted from September through October 2000, in which some two million wireless advertisements were delivered to consumers as they surfed the wireless Web.

“We felt it was our responsibility to lend some of the learning we’ve gotten recently,” said WindWire senior marketing manager Billy Purser.

It’s also not a bad way to drum up business: on Tuesday, WindWire also announced the availability of an automated ad creation tool that creates ads following the company’s specifications. The program allows advertisers to develop an ad — text, banner, interstitial, or audio — that WindWire claims will run on all WAP phones, PDAs and two-way pagers.

“WindWire’s goal from the start has been to preserve the wireless consumers’ satisfaction while maximizing results for wireless advertisers,” said WindWire executive vice president David Wilson. “By publishing ad standards and offering an ad creation wizard with our solution, mobile marketers are sure to deliver the appropriate ad to the appropriate device, while maintaining the wireless consumers experience.”

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