The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) in the US, has introduced a new ad portfolio.  A draft of the new guidelines is open for public comment until December 22, 2016.  The proposed changes align with the LEAN principles released late last year.

The new ad portfolio and LEAN principles are in stark contrast to the introduction of the rising star ad units that took place a few short years ago – where bigger, flashier units were deemed the new normal for rich media.  User experience, faster load times, and flexible creative that work across screens and resolutions are now prioritized.

If you have not explored the new ad guidelines, here are the key points you need to know:

  • The new guidelines affect display and rich media ads, but not VAST or VPAID video advertising.
  • Ad sizes to be changed to a flexible format to fit every device.  The ads will be referred to by ad size “Small, Medium, Large” and by aspect ratio (e.g. 1:1 | 1:2 | 1:3 | 1:4 | 2:1 | 3:1 | 4:1 | 6:1 | 8:1 | 10:1). For those of you in Canada, you may be familiar with aspect ratio sizing when IAB Canada updated their ad specifications in January 2015.
  • With the flexible ad sizes, publishers will be able to define the exact ad size according to their website layout.  So, for instance, a publisher can choose to run an 1:1 ad that is 300 pixels wide, while one can choose to run it as 420 pixels wide.
  • Mobile interstitial ads should allow users to swipe to continue viewing content, for a seamless website experience.
  • Mobile adhesion banners (bottom anchored, at a 4:1 ratio), which would replace a traditional 320×50 for example, cannot be greater than 25% of the height of the screen dimensions.
  • Full-screen expandables are now permitted on desktop and mobile, when a user clicks on the ad to initiate, the ad can expand to fill the entire screen OR be positioned centered with a black screen background filling the entire screen.
  • Additional guidelines have been created for emoji and social stickers, vertical video and augmented reality integrations, virtual reality, 360 degree video ads and more content experiences.
  • The LEAN principle discourages the use of pop-up ads, fixed size expandables, countdown interstitials.
  • The new ad portfolio discontinues: auto expand, auto play, rich media specs, universal ad package (UAP) specs – and have placed fixed ad sizes and rising stars under evaluation.

The flexible ad sizes will require that advertisers and creative agencies produce HTML5 ads that are responsive and adaptive in layout.  In future, fixed sized ads may be phased out, which means we may see an elimination of .GIF and .JPG format ads entirely.

What happens next?  Once the public comment and evaluation phase is complete, the IAB will work on updating the ad portfolio and provide transition guidance.  In early 2017, the new standard ad portfolio guidelines will officially be released.  In the meantime, you can learn more about the changes here.