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Yahoo Tries 'Pushdown' Ad Unit

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The Online Publishers Association, in its effort to get the digital publishing world to adopt bigger, bolder ad creative, just got a major boost from a nonmember.

Yahoo has quietly begun rolling out the OPA’s "Pushdown" ad unit -- a placement introduced nearly a year ago as a means of creating more intrusive, brand-friendly creative units for the increasingly commodified display ad market.

The Pushdown, which takes over the majority of a site by temporarily pushing down the venue's content, has been tested by a slew of big name publishers, including The New York Times, Discovery, Conde Nast and ESPN.

But until now, the Pushdown -- and similar efforts at over-sized Web ads (like ShortTail Media’s D:30) -- have been the domain of traditional media companies, which are looking to boost the value of their display inventory, and in most cases recoup the cost of producing content. Portals like Yahoo and major social networking sites have largely been absent from this trend. In fact, Yahoo is not eligible to be an OPA member, and thus was not part of the original conversations surrounding the Pushdown and related OPA placements.

But according to Mitch Spolan, Yahoo’s head of field sales, brands have been specifically asking for the unit. On Feb. 1, Yahoo began testing the Pushdown on some of its biggest vertical properties, including the home pages of Yahoo News, Yahoo TV, Yahoo Autos and the celebrity gossip site OMG. AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Nokia and Universal Pictures are among the brands that have tested the placement to date.

Of the OPS'a initiatives, Spolan said: “They are seeing that top-tier advertisers wanted to tell a brand story. So why would we not want to be a part of that?”

In most cases, according to Spolan, Yahoo simply needed to adjust existing creative specs to start accepting the OPA-approved placements. The exception is the OPA’s "six-panel" unit, which would require Yahoo to do some site reengineering. Otherwise, it’s been a seamless process, and one that has Spolan excited about the chance to push the medium forward.

“We want to listen to the advertisers and be easier to work with,” he said. “Advertising can and should be content. We are focused on redefining the creative canvas on the Internet. The OPA formats are one step toward that.”