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IAB Calls for Creative Revolution in Ad Formats

Enlists Agencies, Marketers & Publishers in Effort to Transform Interactive Advertising into a Canvas for Brand Creativity

NEW YORK, NY (September 27, 2010) — In a bold move to fuel online creativity and move more brand marketing dollars to interactive, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced a competition to develop new ad formats to enhance the already existing list of IAB standard ad units. The announcement was made at the IAB’s sixth annual MIXX Conference and Expo in New York City where leaders from across the marketing and advertising industry converge for the most influential digital marketing summit.

“We are launching a formal call to action today for creatives, technologists, publishers, marketers—the entire advertising and marketing ecosystem—to bring us their best ideas for ad formats,” said Randall Rothenberg President & CEO, IAB. “The Internet has opened a floodgate of creativity, and it is critical that we fashion an environment where both the art and science of advertising can flourish and deliver engaging experiences that resonate with consumers and build brands.”

The IAB has been the standard setting body for interactive advertising formats since 1997 and is widely regarded for instituting rigor in the digital media supply chain. Agencies, marketers, and publishers recognize IAB standard ad units as the foundation of modern digital marketing communications.  Seven of the IAB ad units comprise approximately 80% of all online ads served in the U.S.

While the IAB reviews and updates its “IAB Ad Unit Guidelines” each year, this represents the first time in the organization’s history that it has asked representatives of the entire value chain to work together to innovate new ad formats specifically for brand marketers.

The contest to standardize brand-hospitable ad units is part of an initiative the IAB calls “Reimagining Interactive Advertising,” which is being led by top agency executive Peter Minnium, formerly Managing Director of Lowe Worldwide, the global creative agency network of the Interpublic Group, where he held leadership roles overseeing international operations. Mr. Minnium has joined the IAB as a Consulting Director.

“The IAB’s work promoting the need for an interactive advertising creative revolution has garnered wide attention and a renewed focus on creativity,” said Mr. Minnium. “I’m thrilled to lead the effort to find some rising stars that will allow online advertising to reach its potential to engage consumers with experiences that endure.”

The IAB is calling on companies and individuals to submit their ad format candidates to a selection process led by a cross-disciplinary group that includes agency creative directors, media executives and ad operations specialists, who will judge the ad formats for their potential to drive brand equity at scale. The ad unit submissions will be evaluated on the following specific criteria:

  • Branding – How well does the ad format provide a canvas for brand creativity?
  • User Experience – How does the ad format positively impact user experience?
  • Functionality – How does the ad format take advantage of online user behaviors and technologies?
  • Page Integration – How does the ad format enhance the relationship between the ad and publisher page layout?
  • Adoption – How easily could the ad format be widely adopted by publishers?

This is an opportunity to use the wisdom of the ecosystem to develop the next IAB standards that allow consumers to do within an ad what they’ve grown accustomed to doing across the web,” said Jeff Levick, President, Global Advertising & Strategy, AOL, and a member of the IAB Board of Directors. “AOL is proud to be among the first in the industry to submit formats and we look forward to the creative collaboration of partners across the industry in this critical effort.”

“Mullen is thrilled that the IAB is including leading agencies in the development of new, more innovative interactive ad formats,” said Edward Boches, Chief Creative Officer at Mullen and a member of the IAB task force. “With all the new developments in social media, sharing and consumer participation, there’s a huge opportunity to make online ads more effective both at building brands and inciting engagement.”

Today’s announcement is the latest development in “Reimagining Interactive Advertising,” an effort by the IAB to refashion consumers’ experiences of interactive brand advertising that includes leaders from creative agencies, media agencies and publishers. Other elements of this initiative include the groundbreaking IAB and Bain & Company study, “Building Brands Online: An Interactive Advertising Action Plan” and the IAB’s effort to create measurement standards for online advertising.

Submissions for the new brand-friendly ad units will be accepted until November 15 and the selection process will span the remainder of 2010. In 2011, a set of “rising star” ad units will be selected and subsequently evaluated in-market based upon consumer and business adoption, with new IAB standard ad units named by the end of the year.

To submit prospective ad units and to learn more about the criteria, please go here.

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 460 leading media and technology companies who are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit iab.com.

IAB Media Contact
Marla Aaron