CBS Interactive Bets On New, Larger Ad Unit, ‘The Lightbox’

CBS

Recent reports have suggested that display advertising is experiencing a tentative comeback, thanks in part to the adoption of larger ad formats over the past few months by publishers inside and outside the Online Publishers Association. CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS), which posted 14 percent decline in revenues in Q3 last week, is hoping that offering marketers a larger canvas will help it capture the possible turnaround in online ad spending with its customizable ad unit, The Lightbox.

The new unit, which CBS Interactive developed for its sites, represents another step away from the conventional banner ad by offering an illuminated ad that takes over the entire page while the rest of the page is dimmed.

The Lightbox format will be available across all CBS Interactive sites, including CNET, GameSpot, CBS.com, TV.com, CBSNews.com, and CBSSports.com. GameSpot is the first property to feature the ads, for a promotion of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. GameSpot’s ad appears on the site’s new releases section. On top of the page-takeover, the spot features a simulated grenade explosion, which precedes the launch of the game’s 30-second TV spot. CBS Interactive worked with The Richards Group on the creative, while the digital aspect and media buys were handled by Slingshot.

Since the OPA began promoting larger display units in three standardized formats this past summer, a number of other unaffiliated OPA operations, like Federated Media, began making similar offerings as part of a premium placement. The formats are designed to address common complaints about clutter and more importantly, to stress display ads’ value as a branding tool as opposed to a direct response vehicle, which relies on users’ clicks of static banner ads to prove its value. So far, some marketers have shown a willingness to pay for the higher priced larger display. But as the economy remains shaky, marketers’ branding efforts are likely to be tentative as well.

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