IAB members pledge support for banner guides

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Major Web publishers said last week that they will reconfigure their sites to fit new industry ad banner guidelines within the next few months.

The Coalition for Advertising Supported Information & Entertainment and the Internet Advertising Bureau are recommending that the ad industry use eight standard banner sizes. That's one fewer than the groups had originally agreed upon (AA, Dec. 9), but dozens fewer than exist on the Web today.

HARD WORK IS JUST BEGINNING

But after all the hullabaloo over the implementation of guidelines, the irony for many Web publishers is that the hard work is just beginning.

They have the unenviable task of convincing site designers to make significant changes in their sites to accommodate the new ad sizes, which are expected to become a de facto standard.

"We have some very, very, very intensely designed sites," said Steve Goldberg, an IAB member and manager of advertising development and strategy with the Microsoft Network. "We'll be changing as soon as possible, [but] the transition period is going to take about 60 to 90 days."

CNN and CNNfn as well as The New York Times also will change their banner ad sizes to conform, company executives said.

"It's up to us as an industry to make sure that ad buys can be done as easily as possible," said Brooks Fisher, VP-advertising marketing at InfoSeek Corp. He's one of the lucky ones, though; Infoseek's site already uses most of the recommended banner ad sizes.

Now that the banner debate seems settled, Web publishers, in general, are eager to move on.

"Banner standards are really the first step," said Rich LeFurgy, acting chairman of IAB and VP-marketing and advertising with Starwave Corp. "Once they're in place, we're going to look back and say `What was that all about?"'

IAB also reported last week at its fall general meeting in New York that Internet publishers generated $157.4 million in revenues for the first nine months of 1996.

DATA FROM COMPANIES

The report, which includes more than 200 companies that sell online ad space, is the first to compile data directly from Internet companies instead of estimating revenues based on ad appearances and rate card data. The total includes spending on Web sites, commercial online services, offline services like PointCast and free e-mail companies like Juno Online Services.

How accurate is IAB's tally? It's hard to say. Internet publishers reported their own revenues to the IAB's partner in the report, Coopers & Lybrand, confidentially. The group said 85% of the reported revenue came from sites that willingly participated; Coopers had to estimate the remaining amount.

BARTER DEALS INCLUDED

The report includes all gross commissionable revenues on sites as well as the value of barter deals and the online portion of cross-media packages. IAB didn't break out what percentage of revenues were attributed to barter, although many in the industry say that figure is significant.

By comparison, Jupiter Communications estimated Web ad spending alone amounted to $138 million for the first nine months. Jupiter bases its estimates on rate cards, publicly available data and discussions with publishers.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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