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Internet advertising group supports bigger banner sizes

NEW YORK - Banner ads are set to get bigger as the Interactive Advertising Bureau threw its weight behind four new larger sizes of ad.

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The US internet group, whose members include Microsoft, AOL Time Warner and Yahoo!, is backing a new larger universal ad size and three others in a move that it says will make banner ads simpler and more cost effective.

The IAB is calling the new sizes the "Universal Ad Package". It said its members have already agreed to offer the new ad sizes to advertisers who are likely to be keen on more prominent advertising furniture on websites. Before that happens, the trade body said it would consult the industry on the new plans.

What the package does not include is the standard 468x60 pixel banner, which is as recognisable today as anything on the web and is displayed prominently at the top of pages on the vast majority of websites.

Greg Stuart, executive director of the IAB, said: "Although research has proven the banner works, we are tired of it being referred to as the 'much-maligned' banner. We are effectively de-emphasising the banner."

The changes, however, are not likely to come in overnight and may take some time, because for the change to happen web publishers will have to overhaul their websites to allow the new sizes to fit.

Of the four ads making up the Universal Package only one is truly new, the 728x90 pixel -- the others are already recommended on the IAB site.

In part, the move is to cut down the work involved in producing interactive advertising campaigns, reducing the core number of banners sizes to a small group of four. The issue has long been a bug bear for ad agencies, who have complained about the unnecessary work involved.

"Instead of having to produce for 15 or 20 different sites that all have different requirements, if agencies produce in these four, they're pretty much guaranteed to reach everyone," Stuart said.

The four ad sizes that the IAB will recommend are a 728x90 pixel "leader board", which runs across the top of a page like a giant banner; the 160x600 pixel skyscraper that runs vertically on the side of a page; and the 300x250 pixel and 180x150 pixel rectangular formats.

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