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Wireless Ad Standards Set

The Wireless Advertising Association recently released draft standards for ad sizes and types on wireless phones and personal digital assistants.

The standards were necessary because of the wide variation in device types and the number of different companies — wireless carriers, ad serving networks, ad agencies, wireless device manufacturers and content publishers — involved in the industry, said Tom Bair, a wireless consultant who is chairman of the WAA's Ad Standards Committee.

“Wireless advertising has some unique challenges,” Bair said. “Not only is there a great deal of variation in the technological capabilities in devices, including sizes of screens and the way they handle text and graphics, but there are so many different kinds of companies involved in the wireless advertising chain.”

The New York-based WAA set standards for text, graphic and graphic/ text combination ads on wireless application protocol-enabled phones. The establishment of standards was difficult because of the various screen sizes. However, the WAA developed standards that apply to at least 80 percent of WAP devices.

“If you're an ad agency, there is no point if you have to make 10 versions of everything you do,” Bair said. “So, we went basically with the 80/20 [percent] rule.”

The organization established four sizes of graphic-only ads as a standard: 80 pixels by 8 pixels, 80 by 15, 80 by 20 and 80 by 31. The 80-pixel-by-31-pixel graphic ads should run across the full screen, on a four-line display. The first three graphic-only sizes should be content-friendly, which means ads should be small enough to accommodate content the carrier requires on its screens, such as the carrier's name.

Graphic- and text-ad sizes include 80 pixels by 8 pixels with one line of text, 80 pixels by 15 pixels with one line of text, 80 pixels by 15 pixels with two lines of text and 80 pixels by 20 pixels with one or two lines of text.

“A pretty common screen size in Europe and Japan is 80 by 20, so we included that in our standards. Domestically, the standard is 80 by 15,” said John Milne, chairman of the WAA's WAP committee.

Interstitial ads on WAP phones can include all the sizes listed for text, graphic-only and graphic-text ads. However, interstitials should time out after five seconds, and the user must have the option of skipping the ad. “We want to make sure the user experience is positive,” Milne said.

For PDAs, the WAA recommended 150-pixel-by-24-pixel and 150-pixel-by-32-pixel ads for Palm OS devices; and 215 pixels by 34 pixels and 215 pixels by 46 pixels with two lines of text for Pocket PC OS devices.

Supported ad formats, which are being used by the industry but not as widely as the WAA's recommended formats, are 150 pixels by 18 pixels with one line of text and 150 pixels by 40 pixels with three lines of text for Palm OS devices, and 215 pixels by 26 pixels plus one line of text along with 215 pixels by 58 pixels plus three lines of text for PocketPC OS devices.

WAA will take comments on the draft until late July, when the standards will be finalized. However, the standards are just industry guidelines that can be altered. “This is not going to be the end-all,” Milne said. “There will be some other [ad sizes and types] that we're not using that agencies will start experimenting with.”

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