Top Web Publishers Pledge Bigger Ads


NEW YORK Faced with a deepening recession and declining display ad rates, some of the top Web publishers are countering with a new offer: bigger ads.
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ESPN and over a dozen more of the Web's most-trafficked sites that belong to the Online Publishers Association have agreed to run three new ad units that they hope will lure brand advertising dollars.

The new units are:

• The fixed panel, a 336-by-860-pixel banner that is wider than the standard skyscraper and follows users as they scroll down the page.

• The XXL box, a 468-by-648-pixel unit that can expand with video.

• The pushdown, a 970-by-418-pixel placement that takes up over half of the page before rolling up.
The idea is for the OPA sites, which represent 108 million monthly users, to bridge the divide between customized brand ad options and the need for standard formats. The new advertising units will operate outside the industry's standard specifications set by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
"As we talk to the agency community, one of the things we hear is they need new creative ways to connect with our audiences on the page," said Pam Horan, president of the OPA. "These ad units are providing a new palette for them to connect with the audience."
The participating OPA sites will make the units available in July.
The push comes as big-name publishers struggle against the commoditization of online advertising that's slowing revenue growth in their digital operations. The proliferation of ad networks and the abundance of impressions have driven down ad prices.

The hope is that these larger ads, which will be sold only through publisher sales forces, are one way to restore value to ad inventory, said Mike Fogarty, group publisher at Babycenter, which signed on to run the new units.

"We need to make sure we're not just competing in the same way as other ad platforms and networks are for ad dollars," he said. "We need to remember the role of the publisher, which is not just a place for marketers to place ads. We'd like to partner with marketers to create more branding opportunities."

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