Eyeblaster Launches Version 5.5 With Creative Specification Database

Eyeblaster today unveiled the latest iteration of its Rich Media Platform with a comprehensive new creative specification database designed to help online ad and media agencies, publishers, and advertisers improve campaign work flows. With version 5.5 of the platform, which is used to develop, deploy, and manage rich media ad campaigns, Eyeblaster is aiming to reduce steps in the ad campaign setup and implementation process. The firm also hopes that new features of the tool--including beefed-up publisher ad specs and an ad demonstration generator--will help it achieve broader recognition.

"The new version is oriented around usability and functionality of the platform," says Paul Kadin, executive vice president of marketing and strategy, Eyeblaster, adding: "We're moving away from our heritage of Eyeblaster being the floating ad company. We want to be the means by which advertisers use all of the rich media technologies in all formats."

Apart from the floating ads for which the company is best known, Eyeblaster offers expandable banners, commercial break-style ads, wallpaper ad units, and streaming media capabilities through Macromedia Flash MX. The firm competes with rich media ad providers including PointRoll, Unicast, and United Virtualities, and more recently, DoubleClick. New additions to Eyeblaster's platform, which is updated every three months on average, are designed, in part, to entice advertisers to use its platform rather than those of other rich media outfits.

The upgraded publisher specifications database features in-depth information regarding requirements of publisher sites that accept Eyeblaster ads, such as available page units, maximum ad play duration, and file size restrictions. Publishers now will be able to update specs themselves, and advertisers can view minimum requirements across chosen publisher sites using a lowest common denominator feature. The database allows every ad to be validated against any publisher's creative specifications.

"The publisher spec database could be valuable [if it stays up to date], eliminating some of the back and forth between agency, media company, and publisher about what's allowed," said Tom Goosmann, chief creative officer, True North. "This could save time if we happen to miss something that causes the Eyeblaster to be rejected by the publisher and returned."

The database is also expected to fill a void felt by publishers. "Things that were sufficient a couple of years ago are insufficient now," opines Benjamin Reid, vice president, sales operations at About Inc., publisher of niche content site About.com. The site accepts Eyeblaster ads in addition to ads from Adinterax, Eyewonder, PointRoll, Unicast, and others. According to Reid, as rich media ads have grown in popularity and particular features like close buttons have become standardized, guidelines that were once developed through "ad hoc conversations" are now defined in About.com's specs.

The platform also validates whether specific ad components meet publisher specifications, and notifies advertisers and publishers when certain ad features don't meet publisher guidelines. Because of the alert system, "the agency doesn't have to send us creative that we kick back because it doesn't fit our specs," Reid adds.

Eyeblaster considers the publisher specs database something that can benefit the Internet ad industry as a whole. Eyeblaster's Kadin points to industry trade group, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), noting: "They're working on rich media standards that have the same objective as the publisher specs database, which is to narrow down the options people have to deal with. A combination of those guidelines, he continues, and "the ability to highlight those standards through Eyeblaster's database go hand in hand."

The database stores guidelines on around 4,000 publisher sites that accept Eyeblaster ads, according to an Eyeblaster spokesman.

According to Adam Gelles, director of industry initiatives at the IAB, the organization does not provide--and does not intend in the near future to build--a database of publisher specs. "We're not planning to create something like that," he says.

Developing such a database for industry-wide purposes would be challenging, maintains About.com's Reid: "The specs Eyeblaster is putting up there are very granular for their particular formats. Some formats are being commoditized, but there's not a lot of overlap vendor-to-vendor," he says, adding: "Down the road the IAB should be moving into this role, but the dust hasn't really settled yet."

The new platform version also enables agencies and advertisers to weight rotation of particular ad creative. Interface adjustments have reduced steps in campaign setup, editing, and flight addition, modification, or duplication. Eyeblaster also has developed an offline ad demonstration generator that presents ads on any chosen Web page.

"That's just the sort of thing you want in your pitches," Reid says. "It gives advertisers the experience rather than a static snapshot." True North's Goosmann agrees: "The offline ad demo generator allows clients to see the creative on the pages it ran to simulate a live environment. This eliminates the need to create 'fake' pages for presentations and offline demonstrations," Goosmann says.

Eyeblaster says it's also working with publishers to develop custom publisher-exclusive ad formats. And the company expects to introduce a new video format that has the ability to create in-stream video ads in coming weeks.

Tobi Elkin contributed to this report.