IQ News: FAST Revs Up Ad Standards

In an effort to create industry standards, FAST’s ad model committee has developed voluntary guidelines for online ad formats that it also believes will meet the needs of users.
“The overall purpose was to develop a collaborative forum for publishers, advertisers, technology companies and third party ad bureaus [such as ad serving companies] to come together,” said John Spencer, president of Unicast Communications and vice chair of the FAST narrowband committee. (FAST was formed out of last August’s Future of Advertising Stakeholders Summit, sponsored by Procter & Gamble.)
With the goal of creating a common lexicon, the committee of more than 200 people identified basic ad models that it is terming Interactive Standard Advertising Units. They include: standard banners, as defined by the Internet Advertising Bureau and the Coalition for Advertising-Supported Information and Entertainment; banners with a daughter window; pop-ups, which appear in windows on top of content but without a banner; transitional pop-up windows that play between Web pages; and interstitials, full-screen ads which are like low-bandwidth TV ads.
Regardless of format, the group feels ads should begin to display within six seconds. “If people aren’t there to look at them, what good is it?” said Mike Donahue, executive vice president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and chair of the ad model committee.
FAST also adopted these principles:
– Ads should work on what Spencer termed a “base level system” with such accoutrements as Windows 95 or 98, a 28.8 Internet connection and a standard Web browser. FAST advocates that by Jan. 1, 2000 the ads must also work with the Macintosh.
– It should be possible to reliably track and measure ads. FAST is working on measurement methods and metrics guidelines as well.
The ad model group will revisit these topics formally every six months, or more frequently if issues arise. “We want to make sure that the community out there felt empowered by this and not enfeebled,” Donahue said.–Adrienne Man