In an update to the online advertising guidelines issued in February, the Internet Advertising Bureau in New York issued a set of voluntary guidelines for rich media formats. These are claimed to be a reliable pointer to the shape of future Internet advertising.
Despite its undoubted efficacy, the so-called rich media – the use of animation and similar techniques to make ads less stilted – can be painfully slow to download depending to a far greater extent on bandwidth and technology than standard online ads.
Another problem, according to the IAB, is the multiplicity of technologies, causing confusion and hindering widespread adoption of rich media. IAB president-CEO Robin Webster says she hopes the new guidelines will help advertisers to "amortize the costs of new ads and hopefully spend more on media."
The latest guidelines address such down to earth matters as limiting file sizes to avoid disruption of the viewing experience. The initial load of a rich media banner, for instance, should be no more than 15,000 bytes (15k), with an additional 85,000 (85k) bytes permissible if consequent user-action indicates interest in the advertiser.
The IAB’s rich media taskforce has held in-dept discussions with ad agencies and vendors to establish an optimum duration for transitional ads – ‘interstitials’, to jargon freaks – the consensus being seven seconds.
But insiders believe the RM taskforce will have to run to keep pace with the new technology: “Rich media is such a funny one because it changes all the time,” observed Ogilvy Interactive senior partner Jonathan Adam who consulted on the guidelines.