How Brand Advertising Is Moving Online

Federated Media Publishing is rolling out Ad Stamp, a new option for marketers that combines two of the industry’s largest ad units with a companion banner piping and social media content.

The FM network now offers a large “pushdown” ad — rolled out recently by members of the Online Publishers Association — at the top of Web pages that expands to 970-by-418 pixels before collapsing to 970-by-60. On the right side of pages, FM will place a 300-by-600 “tower.”

FM, which runs campaigns on top blogs like Boing Boing, has added a social touch to the package with a 300-by-250 pixel “conversationalist” placement at the bottom of pages to pull in brand-related feeds that can include blog posts, Tweets and options for friending the advertised products and services on Facebook or following them on Twitter.

With Ad Stamp, more of a page’s real estate is dedicated to advertising. The goal, according to FM CEO John Battelle, is to build a Web ad product to serve a similar purpose as two-page spreads in magazines or 30-second TV spots. Advertisers told FM that’s what it would take to would move brand advertising online, he said.

“They wanted a premium experience like they were already getting from other media,” Battelle said. “They were providing them with the canvas to do the creative work that allowed them to engage in a way that was native to that medium.”

Web advertising has tried mightily to develop new formats and arrest the downward spiral of display ad prices. The OPA recently introduced three new large formats, including the pushdown unit, that sites like ESPN and The Weather Channel will accept. Many publishers are also running so-called “welcome ads” that block site content when users arrive.

The risk, of course, is consumer revolt, as such new programs could evoke the kind of distaste felt for pop-up, pop-under and interstitial ads. Even so, FM argues that the three Ad Stamp units working in concert for a single brand would actually provide a better user experience than the current scattershot, multiple-ad-network approach.

“There’s been a lot of fragmentation of attention,” said Battelle, comparing some sites to Nascar vehicles plastered with logos. “On a typical page, there are five or six different ads competing for your attention.”

FM will cap the expandable pushdown units at one per day per user. But Ad Stamp as a whole is persistent for the entire period of the buy.

The company is offering the Stamp to a single brand per day to run up to five days a month across 30 sites in its tech and home categories. Sites in FM’s tech category attract about 11 million visitors per month,  while participating sites in the home category reach 9.4 million, according to Quantcast.

A handful of brands have signed on to run Ad Stamp campaigns. FM declined to name the advertisers or the rates. The first efforts  will break over the next month.

Nielsen Business Media