In early October, after a preliminary review of the proposed IAB New Standard Ad Unit Portfolio, Exponential endorsed the guidelines and promised to follow up with more detailed commentary, included below.
At a high level, we at Exponential strongly approve of the spirit of the overhaul, as it closely aligns with the significant investment we have made and continue to make towards all ads being LEAN, responsive across environments, and HTML5. This will result in a healthier ecosystem for all participants—advertisers, publishers, consumers, and the companies that connect them.
Given our focus on non-intrusive advertising that respects the user’s browsing experience, our flagship Video-Driven Experiences (VDX) are already compliant with the majority of the IAB’s relevant recommendations. And, based on the extensive qualitative research and quantitative AB testing we’ve done, there are specific areas where we believe there are alternate functionalities that still satisfy the IAB’s goals.
Proposed IAB Recommendation
|Regarding animation: “Length of animation MUST NOT exceed 15 seconds. No looping beyond 15 seconds.” (pg. 10)||We believe there are minimal negative impacts to user experience of looping animation (or video) beyond 15 seconds. Some of our advertisers wish to take advantage of our VDX units, but don’t have video assets readily available. To satisfy this need, we create animations and loop them in the teaser state as we would a video. Since the file has already been loaded (and has a low weight), there is nominal extra cost to subsequent loops.|
|Regarding ad expansion: “Hover or Rollover MUST NOT be used as actions for ad expansion.” (pg. 10)||We believe rollover expansion can be minimally intrusive if the user’s initial mouse position is disregarded (i.e. if you are hovering over the ad when it loads it does not start to expand), and if the ad stops expanding and returns to its initial size when the user ceases to hover over the ad. Our VDX Display ads expand upon both rollover and click, and we often see more qualified user intent from rollover expansions, as evidenced by more time spent in unit and higher video completion rates.|
|Regarding when auto-play video is acceptable in non-video environments: “When a user is on Wi-Fi or broadband internet connections. This is to respect user’s cost of consuming content.” and “Auto play MUST provide pause/play and mute/unmute controls from the start of video play” (pg. 11)||
We believe there are scenarios where auto-play video on mobile connections is permissible, and where certain controls are not necessarily relevant or needed.
Our VDX Mobile (view on mobile for best results) units auto-play when users are on mobile connections, but the initial and subloads are minimal to ensure low latency and data costs. However, we look forward to continuing to reduce this cost through technologies such as adaptive bitrate streaming.
Our VDX Display and Mobile units auto-play in the teaser state without mute/unmute buttons, but they autoplay with sound off. They do not include pause/play buttons, but as long as the video is within a clearly defined ad container without sound we do not believe this to be necessary, and have not received negative feedback from consumers.
|Regarding adhesion banners: “The ad MUST have a ‘close button’ above top right corner of the ad” (pg. 12)||We believe there are scenarios where close buttons can be effective without being in the top right and at least 50×50 dp. We have not found evidence of adverse effects with the location of the close button on the left (i.e. a statistically equivalent close rate for the same ad unit with close buttons on either side). Our VDX Mobile Adhesion Banners include a close button located in the top left corner, for example. Additionally, the size of the close button is smaller than the IAB’s proposed 50×50 dp in order to cover less content while still remaining noticeable to the user, but there is a larger invisible hot spot around it to minimize accidental expansions.|
As we continue research and development into new ad formats and mediums where we can help our publishers monetize their content and advertisers reach their target audiences at scale, we look forward to incorporating the IAB’s final guidelines, and updating our product roadmap for 2017 and beyond accordingly.
As Exponential’s Director of Product Management, Tom Bash is responsible for leading product management, external go-to-market strategy and internal operations for Exponential’s engagement product suite. He is responsible for the ongoing development and success of Exponential’s video, mobile and platform products, including VDX and EDGE.
Prior to this role, Tom led all mobile product initiatives at Exponential. Prior to his roles at the company, Tom was the first product manager at mobile location-based gaming startup Booyah, which included working on multiple top 10 App Store launches, and building a business intelligence platform on top of Hadoop. Before that, he was a consultant, conducting financial and economic analysis and market research for Fortune 500 companies.
Tom holds a BA in Business Administration with a focus in Finance from the University of Washington. He is based in Exponential's headquarters in Emeryville, CA.
This is the blog of Exponential Interactive Inc.,(www.exponential.com) a global provider of advertising intelligence and digital media solutions to brand advertisers.
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