MMA Issues Standard Mobile Ad Sizes

The Mobile Marketing Association on Wednesday rolled out an updated set of mobile ad guidelines that aim to streamline mobile ad buying by creating six standard display units for mobile phones as well as recommended ad sizes for tablets.

The MMA came up with the units after analyzing some 150 billion mobile ad impressions in the second quarter to find which had the most frequent and consistent usage. An initial list of 60 common mobile ad formats was boiled down to six, forming what the trade group calls the standard Mobile Universal Ad Package.

It includes three smaller sizes geared to feature phones -- 120 x 20 pixels; 168 x 28; and 216 x 36 -- and three larger banner ads for smartphones: 300 x 250; 300 x 50 and 320 x 50. Initially, all the major ad networks have agreed to support the new standard set of units, along with significant, major U.S.-based publishers. 

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Following a 30-day comment period, the universal ad package will be finalized in January and all networks and publishers will have until the end of March 2012 to become fully compliant.

“What we’re doing is just trying to drive the market to a further refinement of exactly what are the ad units that the buyers should produce, that publishers will prepare on their front end or app, and the ad networks can use  standardization for their business,” said MMA Global CEO Greg Stuart.

To develop the ad standards, the MMA partnered with research firm ImServices Group and a group of executives from companies including AT&T AdWorks, ESPN Mobile, Google, JumpTap, Medialets, Millennial Media, Ogilvy and Tribune. Ad networks and publishers that support the standards will be issued “MMA Universal Mobile Ad Package Compliance” stamps for use on their Web sites and marketing materials.

The effort also extends to tablets, where the MMA did not adopt formal standards but instead published guidelines for ad units for the nascent mobile category. The suggested sizes include 330 x 250; 468 x 60; 728 x 90 and 1024 x 90. Because the tablet market is presently dominated by one device -- the iPad -- the MMA said it will offer refreshed guidance every six months going forward.

“We wanted to see that [market] develop a little bit more before we say 'lock in,’” said Stuart.

The growth of mobile advertising has been seen as held back by fragmentation among devices, ad networks and operating systems. As former head of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Stuart said his background creating standards for online advertising to bolster Internet ad budgets provides a blueprint for mobile.

“There’s a process we run. No. 1 is we create definitions around ad sizes, then a series of technical standards that we’ll eventually follow. Then we look for an evolution of those ads to do things that are even more powerful,” he said. “So over the next couple of years, we’ll get all of this firmly cleaned up.”

The IAB itself has geared up efforts over the last year to encourage the expansion of mobile advertising, including standard-setting. To that end, the organization has proposed a set of API standards governing mobile rich media ads called MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions). The aim is to eliminate the need to modify campaign creative for each ad network or app.

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