Online ad group issues new guidelines

Size really does matter, at least for the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). The IAB has issued new guidelines for larger online ads, giving electronic retailers more space to market their products.

In a statement, the New York-based trade group said the goal of the new voluntary standards is to “help publishers, advertisers and their agencies make the Internet a more effective marketing medium.”

But the IAB, whose members include America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s MSN Network, The Walt Disney Internet Group and Yahoo Inc., said the new ads aren’t intended to replace banner ads.

In October, the IAB said online ad revenues were exceeding projections by marketing firms. At the time, the IAB predicted the total for online advertising revenues would reach US$8 billion for 2000, based on the fact that the revenue total for the first half of last year was $4.1 billion. New York-based Jupiter Research, however, projected the total for the year would be $5.3 billion.

But the IAB also said in October that despite the surge in online advertising as a whole, spending for online banner advertising had declined, while spending for online classified advertising had increased.

While reporting a drop of 6.5 per cent in the third quarter, as of Dec. 20, year-to-date online advertising revenues stood at $6.1 billion with a continuing run rate of between $8 billion and $9 billion for the year, the IAB said.

The new ads – measured in pixels – range in size from the “skyscraper” (120 by 600), the wide skyscraper (160 by 600), the large rectangle (336 by 280) to the vertical rectangle (240 by 400).

“The innovations of the [new standards] we are recommending offer the industry greater flexibility and expanded capabilities and choice for the creative community,” said Richy Glassberg, the IAB’s vice chairman and chairman of the group’s Ad Unit Task Force. “As our medium evolves, new formats which move the business forward will periodically be recommended to the industry, adding to the arsenal of options available.”

Banner advertising has taken a beating in the past couple of years, as users questioned its effectiveness, said James Vogtle, director of e-commerce research at The Boston Consulting Group in Boston. He said these new standards might cause online advertisers to take another look at the online medium and see how they can communicate their messages with these new ads.