Rising Star No More: IAB To Sunset Intrusive Ads

iab-new-adsNo more unwanted sound. Less autoplay. And say goodbye to expanding ads, Rising Stars, 300x250s and 728x90s.

The IAB is tackling cross-screen advertising and intrusive formats in its first set of standard ad units released since 2012. The public can comment on the proposed new portfolio over the next two months.

“Technology and the user experience is changing, and we are reacting to the needs of the market [to make ads] cross-screen, holistic and adaptive,” said Alanna Gombert, GM of the IAB Tech Lab.

Working groups have been mulling over these changes for the past two years. One target for the new guidelines is outstream video, which uses significant data. The IAB wants video to be user-initiated on mobile – unless the ad loads over a speedier Wi-Fi connection. Users must also be able to pause the ads.

Current outstream ads will no longer be compliant.

“There are parts of outstream that are part of the delisted pieces,” Gombert said.

The IAB designated all of its Rising Star units as “in transition,” meaning they will be phased out. Introduced in 2011 and once viewed as cutting-edge, these units often expanded or changed when users hovered over them with their mouse. IAB’s new guidelines call for ads to expand or play only when a user clicks or swipes.

On mobile, the button to close an ad must be in the same place. IAB doesn’t want ads to pop up after content loads.

The new guidelines comply with LEAN, a separate IAB initiative announced last October to make ads “light, encrypted and AdChoices-enabled.” The IAB set maximum data limits, which include viewability or fraud trackers that weigh down creative.

The IAB participates in the Coalition for Better Ads, which plans to create new standards and guidelines to combat ad blocking, but these ad guidelines are separate from that group’s work.

Boosting Cross-Screen

Besides addressing intrusive advertising, the IAB introduced changes to make it easier to create and buy ads across screens.

Common units 300x250s and 728x90s will be retired in favor of cross-screen formats sized by aspect ratios. The 300×250 box becomes a 1:1 aspect ratio unit, while the 729×90 leaderboard becomes an 8:1 aspect ratio unit.

Because advertisers won’t need to build specific units for mobile, this could unlock money for publishers. “Those screens will get more play,” Gombert said.

When the IAB retires these units, programmatic bidding algorithms will have to adjust, too. Algorithms may value some ad sizes more than others, so they’ll have to learn how to set prices for these new units, Gombert said.

“The beauty of algorithms is that they learn,” she said, so the process shouldn’t be overly disruptive.

Emerging Formats

The IAB also issued guidelines around emerging ad formats, such as augmented reality, virtual reality, 360-degree video and emojis. IAB members clamored for the standards to be issued early, instead of trailing the tech, Gombert said.

If the IAB’s new ad units are implemented as currently proposed, consumers browsing the web next year will face a markedly different experience, Gombert predicted.

“There will be less invasive ads and less [ad] content that’s in your face and annoying,” she said. “Ads will be more seamless and optimized for the screen you’re seeing it on.”

Update: Story has been edited to remove a reference to a vendor whose format would not be in line with the IAB’s draft guidelines as they now stand. AdExchanger doesn’t wish to single out any company until formal guidelines are adopted.

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  1. Barry Phelps

    The IAB calling the shots again. Great. Let’s listen to a body that has no experience of planning and buying media and let them tell us what ad-units are acceptable or not. Keep up the good work.

  2. It should be easy if the market will start listening to the websites rather than dictating them. try enabling websites with tools and the users force will make everything right.