The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has beefed up its display portfolio, adding six interactive formats as part of an effort to drive online brand advertising spend.
The idea is to make it easier to roll out campaigns that utilize flashy, more engaging rich media units without requiring agencies to crank out tons of custom ad placements. Since IAB Standard Units representing more than 80 percent of the display units run on a given day, adding more rich media units to the IAB's standard portfolio should help.
“The creative’s dilemma is if they want to create something that is truly interactive and includes rich media today, they have to handcraft those units for a limited number of sites,” said Peter Minnium, the IAB’s head of brand initiatives. “The new units in this new portfolio will enable them to craft it once and run it broadly.”
Minnium said the expansion is the “first radical change” to the Standard Ad Unit Portfolio since the 720-by-90 Leaderboard unit was made standard in December 2002. Since that time, industry bodies like the Online Publisher's Association have pushed for larger, more intrusive ad units  to attract bigger brands and more dollars. “This new [collection of ad units] varies not only in size but in functionality and, of course, in interactivity,” said Minnium.
Arguably the most high profile of the six new units is Portrait, which was launched by AOL’s Pictela division in September 2010 and allows advertisers to include interactive “apps” within a 300-by-1050-pixel display. The other new vertical unit is Filmstrip, which is joined by a pair of horizontal units, "Billboard" and "Pushdown." And for the first time, the IAB is adding a pair of full-page units to the portfolio: the "Sidekick" and "Slider."
Crucial to the adoption of the new interactive units—and the migration of brand advertising dollars from offline to online—the industry must revisit the metrics applied to display ads, Minnium said.
“Fundamentally we’re going to talk about supplementing if not replacing the click with the notion of interaction, both in terms of interaction rate and interaction time,” he said.
To measure interaction rate and time is to measure “purposeful interaction,” which Minnium said is defined around mouse movements. He said “purposeful interaction” is an important distinguishing criterion because it will focus on continual mouse movements within an ad to offset any possible skewing by consumers who may move their mouse over an ad so that it doesn’t disrupt an online reading experience.
Research conducted for the IAB by IPG MediaLab found that consumers are two-and-a-half times more likely to interact with a Rising Stars than an IAB Standard ad and spend twice as much time interacting with the former versus the latter.
When the new units were announced last year as members of the Rising Stars program, much was made of their disruptive sizing and interactive functionalities, but adoption was slow because “Rising Star designation is kind of purgatory on the way to IAB Standard Ad Unit heaven,” Minnium said. He said he expects this year’s Olympics and U.S. presidential election and the brand advertisers the two events attract to catalyze the units’ adoption.