Yahoo Begins Rollout of ‘Pushdown’ Ad Unit

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 vast majority of a sites’ real estate by temporarily pushing down the site’s content below the fold, has been tested by a slew of big name publishers, including the New York Times, Discovery, Condé Nast and ESPN.

But until now, the Pushdown, and similar efforts at oversized Web ads (like ShortTail Media’s D:30), have been the domain of traditional media companies, which are looking to boost up the value of their display inventory—and in most cases recoup the cost of producing content. Portals like Yahoo, as well as the 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 other oversized 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 unit on some of its biggest vertical properties, including the homepages 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.

Spolan said that while Yahoo is not a formal member of the OPA (which is made up primarily of pure content sites), it has been in contact with the group ever since it began testing oversized placements. “The work that the OPA is doing is really interesting stuff. Their goals are my goals,” 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 “fixed 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.”