The rules for mobile application ads outline five units: banner ads; interstitial, or full-screen units; integrated ads, integrated with the app content or game experience; branded apps; and sponsored mobile apps, which feature a sponsoring agreement at various places across the app.
Both banners and interstitial units can be interactive and link to other places inside our outside the app. The functionality may span click-to-call, click-to-mobile Web as well as the ability to click to initiate a video, SMS text message or purchase, among other actions.
For apps or games that will be disrupted by a click-through, the MMA recommends that clickable ads should only be displayed when someone opens or exits an app -- or avoided altogether. If users are switched away from the app by an ad, they should be returned to it at the place they left off.
The guidelines also provide specifications for media formats, aspect ratios, dimensions, file sizes and display lengths for mobile app ads.
"The globalization of the mobile applications specifications in the latest edition of the guidelines is particularly important for the constantly growing and evolving mobile marketing industry to address," said MMA President and CEO Mike Wehrs.
When it comes to mobile TV and video ad breaks, the MMA advises they last 10 to 20 seconds for short-form content of three to five minutes. For clips over five minutes, breaks of 30 seconds or longer are permitted, in consultation with the publisher. One exception is that commercial time for broadcast TV shows on mobile devices can be several minutes long.
The new edition of the ad guidelines also highlights areas where the organization expects to make further rule changes in the future, based on new technologies or market demand. For example, the section on mobile banner ads contains a sidebar stating: "The MMA recognizes the need to provide larger than 300 pixels banner dimensions... MMA's mobile advertising committee has started exploring the opportunities of using Rich Media as an advertising format and plans to come up with guidelines likely to feature flexible widths especially beyond 300 pixels."
The MMA also indicates plans to eventually establish guidelines for location-based advertising as the category evolves. "In the meantime, MMA encourages experimentation in this space and invites companies to share best practice with the MMA."
The group updates its ad guidelines every six months. The MMA Mobile Advertising Committee has dozens of member companies including AT&T, JumpTap, Millennial Media, Telefonica S.A. and Velti.