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New display ad units achieve rising stardom

New display ad units achieve rising stardom Jodi Harris
While most of the advertising industry seems to be looking to the bright, shiny mobile platform for revenue and engagement salvation,  there is a core contingent that realizes that it's better to fix the existing problems of reliable performers before abandoning them in favor of the next big thing.

This is one of the many reasons that some key players in online advertising have tasked themselves with returning the humble display ad to its former glory as a dependable, useful, and attention-grabbing mechanism for consumer outreach. And so at its 2011 Ecosystem conference, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) proudly announced the winners of its Rising Star competition -- an effort to promote new, more brand-friendly ad formats that will spur greater creativity, flexibility, and scalability in the display market.

At the announcement presentation, Quentin George, chief digital officer at MediaBrands, got right to the heart of the problem that exists with currently available ad units: "The next million consumers coming online [will do so] on a mobile device. The ecosystem we've created does not translate there," he said. These new units aim to develop a new class of ad units that can scale, and have the functionality and capabilities that brand advertisers need to engage modern audiences-- those that have trained themselves to turn a blind eye to display ads.

The IAB vetted three dozen submissions, from more than two dozen companies, to identify the six display units with the greatest potential to encourage engagement on viewers' terms and to allow brands to create more participatory relationships with them. Winners were selected by a cross-disciplinary group that included agency creative directors, media executives, publishers, and ad operations specialists. Notably, the developers have all demonstrated their commitment to fostering growth in the sector by gifting their creations to the industry.

The Winners (and their official IAB names):

  • Unicast's Sidekick ((IAB Sidekick)

  • Genex Slider -- produced by Unicast and MediaMind (IAN Slider)

  • Google/YouTube Masthead (IAB Billboard)

  • Pictela Pushdown (IAB Pushdown)

  • Microsoft Int. Filmstrip (IAB Filmstrip)

  • AOL Project Devil (IAB Portrait)


A 90-day build-out period will be instituted while the IAB committee determines their capacity to be adopted by the industry and consumers.  To make room for these Rising Stars -- and to clear the landscape of battle-weary under-performers -- the IAB also announced that it will retire 11 of its18 current standard ad units.

"We have to stop slicing the digital pie into smaller pieces. Instead we need to make it easier for marketers to spend, and more compelling and engaging for consumers. If we do this properly, everyone benefits," said George.

Jodi Harris is the Director of Editorial Content & Curation at Content Marketing Institute. As an independent consultant, Jodi develops strategic content programs and projects for brand, media, and agency clients in the marketing, entertainment,...

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