FAST guidelines try to clear confusion

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Industry group FAST unveiled Monday a new set of Internet advertising guidelines it hopes will ease confusion about rich media.

FAST, representing advertisers, agencies and publishers, recommends four ad-unit categories for advertisers to use online:

* Banner.

* Banner with daughter window, defined as a larger ad unit that appears with a related banner.

* Pop-up, including transitional pop-up, a unit larger than a banner but smaller than full screen.

* Interstitial, a full-screen ad.

Each ad type is further broken down for a total of 22 variations. FAST also recommends that ads should download in six seconds or less and have an obvious way for a consumer to close them.

Like previous ad guidelines issued by the Internet Advertising Bureau, FAST is careful to say these are not standards and the industry is free to use any format. But the goal, says FAST Chairman Rich LeFurgy, is to reduce the number of conflicting choices when it comes to rich-media advertising.

"Some people would argue that we're settling on a standard too early," says Mr. LeFurgy. But "when you have too many people with too many choices that are too out in the future, you have a Tower of Babel."

Ad-serving companies generally welcomed the guidelines, though most believe they won't directly reduce the number of rich-media formats with which they have to deal. Time will tell.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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