Just an Online Minute... Size Matters

Considering all the abuse banner ads are taking these days, you'd think Web publishers everywhere would be hard at work developing a wealth of new online ad formats. Well, they are, but the advertising and web publishing industry isn't exactly welcoming their efforts with open arms.

The bigger banners and ad formats - or what we at MediaPost affectionately refer to as "The Big Units" - have been in existence since 1997, when Forbes.com created the Skyscraper ad - a vertical 150x800 pixel unit that spans an entire page.

While banners appear at the top and bottom of a page and are easily ignored, Skyscrapers appear on the sides of the page where they are more likely to be noticed, since they are adjacent to the editorial content. Of course, the large size commands attention, too.

Still, the Skyscraper has barely made a dent on the list of top formats. Regardless of all the above benefits, the problem with big units is - oddly enough - standardization. Due to the ad standards that were created by CASIE years ago, which made 468x60 banners the industry norm, there's not much room for innovation. It seems the ad industry is just too stubborn to give up the banner.

The latest participant in the Big Unit saga is NYTimes.com, which is currently undergoing an intensive site redesign and as part of the effort, will begin accepting new advertising creative in larger formats in the second quarter of the year. Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New York Times Digital, said the company's profitability goal mandates that they seek every new revenue opportunity.

It's taken Skyscrapers three years to barely scratch the surface of being recognized by the advertising community as a viable format. Will NYTimes.com finally convince us to give bigger ad formats the attention they deserve?