If we're going to establish standards, what should they be?

December 21, 2007 by Dave Haynes

This industry is starting to mature, and one of the key things that has to happen is the establishment of some standards.

We need standardization around ad shapes, encoding rates, even the language we use when we’re out there selling our pots and pans.

Salt and pepper-haired (well, what remains) people like me remember about a decade ago when the Internet Advertising Bureau was established to bring some order to the Wild West that was the Web at that point.

We’re at that stage now, and organizations like OVAB and CODA are talking about establishing standards and guidelines that we can all agree on and work to. Somebody’s to to do it, and whatever you may think of those bodies, at least they’re taking a run at it.

But the question begs – what do those standards and guidelines look like?

Here’s how the IAB categorizes them:

Ad Campaign Measurement & Audit Guidelines
Ad Unit Guidelines
Broadband Video Commercial Measurement Guidelines
Email Guidelines
Lead Generation Best Practices & Glossary
Pop-up Guidelines
Privacy Guidelines
Rich Internet Application Guidelines
Rich Media Guidelines
Rich Media Measurement Guidelines
Terms and Conditions
Universal Ad Package

Now the e-mail and pop-up stuff bears little or no relation to what we do, but as with alot of things, the interactive world has paved a bit of a road for us to follow. It’s also still a road under construction, as despite best efforts, there are still 18 different ad shapes that are approved, though there appear to be efforts to weed that down to four universally-accepted sizes.

The ad size thing is a big one for us, as networks continue to pop up with their own specs on the size of the video window and particularly the size and shape of secondary ad windows on multi-zoned screens.

We’re heading into a slow couple of weeks, and at least some of us will slow down even if we are working. It’s a better time than any to reflect on what’s needed for standards. I’ve love to get see comments posted off this.

Here are my thoughts:

– three standard motion media ad shapes – portrait HD, landscape HD, and 4:3

– encoding rate and file format standards

– standard ad spot durations, ie 5s, 10s, 15s

– code of conduct around software licensing, ie only using what’s legal (see my Adobe Flash posts)

– standardized measurement terminology and practises

– common selling language and methodology for calculating such things as CPMs

– like the IAB, standard audit guidelines and validation

– and much more.

This is important stuff because the memberships and activity in these organizations is dominated by large, well-funded companies who can afford the membership fees and the time and resources to be active. They understandably have their own agendas to pursue with these standards.

The smaller guys have to find other ways to contribute and help influence and shape discussions. I don’t think a goofy little blog is the answer, but it’s a start.

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