Ad Unit Guidelines
Since their introduction in 1996 and most recent update in 2003, the IAB Standard Ad Units helped to create the modern, scalable digital advertising industry. Today over 80 percent of display ads sold have followed IAB standards. Now, the new IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio includes a new range of formats designed to meet marketers’ communications needs across the purchase funnel. Among these are the IAB Rising Stars Display ad units, six new interactive ad units developed and tested in partnership with leading publishers and agencies in the digital world.

View the new IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio →

The IAB Ad Unit Guidelines are intended for marketers, agencies and media companies for use in the creating, planning, buying and selling of interactive marketing and advertising.  The IAB’s Ad Sizes Working Group meets on a bi-annual basis to review proposed new ad units and issue updated voluntary guidelines as appropriate.  The process whereby these new units are reviewed and considered can be downloaded here.

These voluntary guidelines provide a framework for advertising inventory and web page design. The goal is to reduce and simplify the amount of work for agencies that may be faced with having to create several assets of a similar size for different publishers, e.g. 300x95, 300x100, 300x105 pixels.  The recommended file weights and animation lengths are specifically for animated in-page display ads, typically using an authoring program such as Adobe Flash or appearing as animated GIFs.  For creative guidelines for Rich Media ad formats, such as “peelbacks” and “transitionals” (previously referred to as “over-the-page” units), please see the IAB Rich Media Guidelines.
You are encouraged to examine the standardized units and consider them for inclusion into your product offerings.
Agencies & Advertisers
As you expand and utilize greater creativity in your interactive messaging, these Guidelines suggest various units that are being introduced or offered by various publishers.  Please consult your partners to understand their full creative specifications.
We also encourage agencies to use the IAB Creative Spec Database as a simple, easy-to-use centralized source of interactive advertising creative specifications.


Other Information:
Please consult these additional creative guidelines for more information:

IAB Digital Video Creative Guidelines
IAB Pop-Up Guidelines
IAB Rich Media Creative Guidelines
IAB Universal Ad Package

Updated November 2009

In early 2009, the IAB launched its Reimagining Interactive Advertising initiative by bringing leaders from creative agencies, media agencies, and publishers together to discuss the next creative evolution of digital marketing. The newly formed Reimagining Interactive Advertising Taskforce decided that its first order of business would be to review the IAB Ad Unit Guidelines. The IAB Ad Unit Guidelines concern animated in-page display ads, such as standard Flash files, flat JPGs, or animated GIFs. Rich media ad units are also reviewed annually but through separate guidelines because of their additional creative and technological complexity.

Each year, the IAB reviews its Ad Unit Guidelines by convening a working group of its membership. Because of the Reimagining group’s input, the 2009 Ad Unit Sizes Working Group included creative and media agencies for the first time. The joint publisher-agency working group updated the criteria for inclusion as a standard ad unit by looking at industry-wide impression count reports, ad unit availability, agency-side effectiveness reviews, and creative preferences. With the new criteria, it made recommendations on the current list of eighteen standard ad units, including:

  • In order to be considered a standard, an ad unit must be commonly bought and offered throughout the marketplace; only seven of the eighteen ad units currently on the list meet this new criteria
  • Ad units will not be removed from the standards list in 2009, but must meet the criteria by the end of 2010
  • Adoption of new, innovative, effective ad units across networks and publishers will be encouraged by the IAB through a separate process