Notes from the Mediascape: the new face of webvertising?

A new interstitial-style ad unit is coming this summer (ok, in beta) that, if approved, could revolutionize not only what online ads look like, but how they're sold.

A new ad unit is making its way into the cybersphere, and it ain’t a subtle one either. While most marketers have been upholding user experience front and center in their media strategies, US-based ShortTail Media CEO David Payne is calling for deliberately intrusive placements, urging the industry to adopt bigger, bolder creative in the form of 15- to 30-second full-page video ads that load between page browses.

The new standard video ad unit for the Internet, called the Digital 30 (D30), would be sold differently too – much like TV, ultimately shifting online advertising currency away from banner ads sold on bulk impressions, to video ads sold on limited inventory.

According to a number of industry publications this week, Payne, who was formerly head of, recently met with top web publishers in the US in the hopes of getting them to commit to testing the new ad format, which will be out in beta as early as this summer. So far, Reuters has signed on, and and are also said to be considering joining the test.

While ShortTail promises to ‘frequency cap’ the ads so users don’t get inundated (spots will also have a skip button that appears after 10 seconds), some argue that throwing up TV commercial roadblocks will only frustrate users.

Payne’s argument? The main reason web publishing revs haven’t been able to fully replace print revenues is that the standard web ad – the banner – is too easy for readers to ignore, and can’t convey a brand message nearly as well as a glossy magazine ad, a newspaper spread or a TV commercial.

It’s hoped that the new ad unit could set a precedent for better creative as well. In a recent interview with Mediaweek‘s Mike Shields, Razorfish’s national media discipline leader Sarah Baehr says if adopted widely by publishers, the D30 could inspire a creative revolution. ‘I hope that clients invest in creative,’ she said. ‘You don’t want bigger, [lousier] creative.’