The ad format standards that proved so liberating more than a decade ago have become handcuffs for the creative thinkers in our industry. Here's how the two can exist side-by-side.
In online advertising's infancy, many publishers ran what we now call "native ad formats." At the time, "ad format" referred solely to dimensions, as ads were either GIFs or JPGs. As publishers multiplied, the number of formats increased, and ad agencies started crying foul. They couldn't keep up with creating the seemingly countless sizes needed for a diverse, wide-reaching media plan.
Along came the IAB and, with it, widespread adoption of new ad standards like the 728x90, 300x250, and 160x600. "Hooray," said the agencies. "Now we can just create one size, and run it everywhere!" For a short while, agencies could handle creating ads for media plans including many different sites, and things were good.