In-stream commercials can last up to 30 seconds for pre- and mid-roll spots, though publishers may offer custom lengths for post-roll.
That was one of several final advertising creative guidelines offered by the Interactive Advertising Bureau for broadband video commercials online in consultation with the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Another IAB broadband video commercial guideline is the recommendation for a minimum of 200kbps for encoded bit rates.
And there's this: The minimum player controls should be “Start/Stop,” “Volume On/Off” and “Softer/Louder Control.” Suggested buttons include “Fast Forward/Rewind,” “Pause” and “Zoom.” All buttons should be enabled during play, except “Fast Forward.”
IAB's guidelines come less than two months after New York market researcher Nielsen//NetRatings said the proportion of Americans with at-home broadband access reached 42 percent in August.
An estimated 120.8 million Americans had broadband access in August, up 16 percent from January's 103.8 million, or 36 percent of the population, Nielsen//NetRatings said. This shows that carriers are responding to consumer demand for lower-cost broadband connections.
The IAB pointers should improve the consumer experience without restricting creative options for marketers as well as help in media buying and planning online. They also help advertisers and agencies develop rich media content acceptable by interactive publishers.
The guidelines debut just as broadband penetration rates nationwide outpace slower, dialup Internet access. This lets advertisers deliver rich media ads that are close to television-commercial quality but with interactive functionality.
IAB defines broadband video commercials as online ads that may appear before, during and after content including streaming video, animation, gaming and music video content in a player environment. It also covers ads in live, archived and downloadable streaming content.
The broadband ads' common standards will help advertisers, ad agencies and interactive publishers. IAB members who comply with the guidelines will receive a compliance seal.
Members who will comply in the next six to 12 months include Advertising.com, BusinessWeek Online, Cars.com, CBS, CNET Networks, Eyeblaster, EyeWonder, Fox Interactive, IGN, Interpolls, iVillage, Klipmart, Lightningcast, MSN, Nickelodeon, New York Times Digital, Unicast, Walt Disney Internet Group, The Weather Channel Interactive and Yahoo.
IAB's broadband committee is still resolving several issues related to broadband video ads. Among them are the optimum length and ad effectiveness per content category, user- versus host-initiated content experience and broadband video commercial serving and tracking.
Also yet to be worked out are issues like third-party reporting, content and frequency capping.
The IAB will clarify these issues at a future date. The document of its current guidelines is up on www.iab.net/standards/broadband/index.asp.
Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters