Blog Post

OPA Unveils Larger Ad Units; But Can Bigger Save Display?

The Online Publishers Association went live Tuesday with three new ad formats that are meant to provide agencies with a larger canvas to pump out more creative — and more expensive — ads. The OPA has convinced its member publishers to begin offering these units to their advertisers. So far, Frito-Lay and Bank of America are doing campaigns with the pushdown format (970 wide x 418 tall), which fills about half the screen for a few seconds before rolling up to the top. And Mercedes-Benz has committed to running a variety of units on,,,,, and The new units, which have been in test mode since March, are part of the OPA’s masterplan to help save display.

New signs of life?: The OPA has been working overtime to try to change the increasingly negative view of display advertising that’s taken hold since the category began trending downward in the first half of last year. A number of analysts, including JP Morgan’s Imran Khan, have said that the tilt toward performance marketing over display could be permanent, since marketers will continue to demand the clear ROI advantages associated with search ads and cost-per-click. But in recent weeks, display has shown some new signs of life. Some of the biggest brands actually increased their display spending by 27 percent in Q109 vs. Q108, according to Nielsen data released this month.

Supplanting the click-through: The OPA has also been trying to downplay the importance of the click-throughs, which are still the dominant metric for marketers. OPA President Pam Horan told me recently that marketers reliance on click-throughs has hurt creativity and the value of branding campaigns. “So much of the ads that rely on click-throughs are direct response advertising, and advertisers know that they can’t simply rely on those sorts of campaigns,” Horan said. “As for replacing the click-through, we’re mainly arguing for a variety of measurements that marketers should focus on. There