IAB Issues Enhanced Rich Media Guidelines

The Internet Advertising Bureau says that more than 30 online publishers are in compliance--or plan to comply--with the latest crop of rich media advertising guidelines, Version 2.0. The IAB announcement last week involves voluntary guidelines for seven interactive ad formats--two vertical units and five large, rectangular units.

The IAB says that the new guidelines supplement existing guidelines, and are designed to simplify the process of interactive ad planning and buying. The IAB also hopes they'll help in developing online creative. Rich and streaming media advertising account for 11 percent of online ad spending, according to Jupiter Research, which projects that number will reach 39 percent by 2008.

About.com, Advertising.com, America Online, Cartoon Network, CBS MarketWatch, MSN, USAToday, Weather, and Yahoo! are among the publishers that say they are in compliance--or plan to be in compliance--with the new guidelines. The IAB says these publishers account for 65 percent of overall online ad inventory.

"It's important that these standards were finally updated," says Nate Elliott, Jupiter Research analyst. "But advertisers still worry about the production and deployment costs for rich media. These standards, if they succeed, will make that production and deployment quicker and less expensive," Elliott says.

"At the same time, it's surprising that it took the IAB over two years to develop such basic standards. In general, the IAB seems incapable of driving industry standards--whether it's rich media, terms and conditions, or impression counting," says Elliott, who chaired the IAB's rich media task force when he worked at DoubleClick. His group issued the first set of rich media standards in August of 2001.

"The bottom line is that these standards could make rich media easier for agencies and publishers, but they don't drive the industry forward at all. If the standards are successfully adopted, it'll be because Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL are on board," Elliott comments.

David Shen, Yahoo!'s vice president-international products, is the current chairman of the IAB's Rich Media Guidelines Task Force. Adam Gelles is director of industry initiatives for the IAB.

The voluntary guidelines are accessible on the IAB Web site at www.iab.net.

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