Media owners urged to double file sizes for online ads

Australia’s advertisers are attempting to persuade website owners to more than double the file size of display ads to allow for more interesting creative executions.

The campaign – known as The 100kb Project – is being led by The Communications Council’s digital committee, which is chaired by Amnesia Razorfish ECD Iain McDonald.  

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents Australia’s major online media owners, recently amended its guidelines on web ad standards, to allow creative of a file size of 40kb rather than 30kb, This put it in line with other IABs around the world.

But McDonald told Mumbrella that advertisers wanted more.

He said: “We’ve got an NBN on the way so we’re not going to be hampered by file sizes forever. Australia has a great opportunity to start showing the world what we can do.”

However the issue for site owners is that larger files take longer to load, which can be frustrating for users and also hurt ranking within Google.

But McDonald argued that it is relatively easy for sites to detect a user’s connection speed and serve a smaller size ad to those on slower connections.

He also argued that a major problem at the moment is that agencies create files that are too big, leading to delays in creative going online as they battle to reduce their size. He said: ‘Increasing to 100kb would increase the likelihood that content will be delivered on time.”

Pointing out that a total page size including the rest of content often amounts to 1300kb, he said: “This would only be an increase of six to seven per cent in actual size.”

IAB CEO Paul Fisher told Mumbrella that he had already met with the committee to hear the proposal. he said: “We remain to be convinced that the most efficient way of achieving the goal of better quality of creative is with a larger file size.”

He pointed out that as well as increased load times, media owners would potentially face bigger bandwidth bills and advertisers might pay more for their adserving.

However, he said that the IAB was interested in a cost benefit analysis, with the aim of showing if larger files, or bigger page formats increase brand recall. A trial by one or two of IAB’s members could then rapidly follow.

Fisher said: “I cannot see why we couldn’t consider this in weeks rather than months

Also on the Communications Council’s digital committee agenda are development of standards for measuring IPTV, drafting of digital pitch guidelines to help clients select digital agencies and the creation of  guidelines for agencies on ethical use of social media.

The digital committee’s members are:  Heather Albrecht (Digital Connections), Justin Baird (Google), Charles Clapshaw (Tequila), Nic Chamberlain (303), Graham Christie (Big Mobile), Craig Galvin (The White Agency), Nic Hodges (Mediacom), Aden Hepburn (IdeaWorks) Simon Morgan (Publicis Mojo), Ruud Spierings (Facebook), Stephen Von Muenster (Von Muenster Solicitors), and Mike Zeederberg (Zuni).


  1. Renai LeMay
    2 Feb 11
    12:39 pm

  2. I view the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 40kb standard as incredibly archaic. How can this possibly be justified, in an era where online readers are increasingly watching video (with its intense data usage) online through many Australian websites?

    It seems as if that particular limit was set to cater for readers still on dial-up. Hosting and bandwidth costs are coming down continually; and in many cases, the publishers don’t even actually pay for the bandwidth, as the ads are delivered by ad networks etc.

    Let’s try and look forward a bit, shall we?


    Renai LeMay
    Publisher, Delimiter

  3. Chris
    2 Feb 11
    3:02 pm

  4. Another reason to use adblockers…..
    Don’t any of these so called creatives use mobile devices to view web content???
    Back to Noddyland guys….

  5. Logic
    2 Feb 11
    4:22 pm

  6. irrelevant. if this is the best the comms council can do then we need different industry leadership.

  7. Anonymous
    2 Feb 11
    4:28 pm

  8. Since when do creative agencies deliver “on time anyway”. Just learnt to deal with what you have.

  9. Joel
    2 Feb 11
    5:35 pm

  10. It is worth noting that these size limitations generally refer to initial load only and that you can then generally have larger polite loads. Meaning that once a user chooses to interact with the banner this size limitation stops being an issue anyway.

  11. Rob Dick
    3 Feb 11
    12:27 am

  12. Has anyone done any analysis of conversion rates on these ads? Some of the websites I regularly visit have these banners that grow if you’re unfortunate enough to pass your mouse over them or in some cases they just expand of their own accord. Some shrink back to size immediately, others take several seconds to return to their original size, but I know I curse the company that’s inflicted them on me.

  13. Logic
    3 Feb 11
    7:44 am

  14. I’d focus less on file size and more on execution and content. Online ads are most of the time a horrible mix of bad TVC meets bad print with a few bells and whistles and 15 seconds of horrible transitioning. 100k won’t fix that it’ll just make it worse – and it won’t fix response rates from their current lows either. The answer is not in technology.

  15. Bill Posters
    3 Feb 11
    9:23 am

  16. I dunno if bigger ads would drive more click throughs… but they would definitely drive more use of ad blockers.

  17. pete
    3 Feb 11
    9:40 am

  18. I view the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 40kb standard as incredibly archaic. How can this possibly be justified, in an era where online readers are increasingly watching video…
    because user looking for contents, not your F***ing ADs

  19. Sam G
    3 Feb 11
    10:20 am

  20. Publishers with 10-15 ads per page that auto-refresh every couple minutes would be affected more than others.

  21. eunmac
    3 Feb 11
    2:09 pm

  22. Thanks for the feedback on this everyone. It might feel like a small change but I’m taking the view that these things have to start somewhere. Being stuck with 40k is something of a pain. Ask anyone whose job it is to make banners.

    @logic – feel free to tell us what you think IS relevant: In case you don’t know, we have seven other projects including a Digital University for better digital training, pitch guidelines doc for clients, a social media code of ethics review, a mobile payment review for charities, IPTV standards.

    All committee members are donating their own time to try to solve some of the industry problems and push new opportunities to hopefully get a few things changed for the better. We just need to let us know what’s important and we’ll do our best to look at it.


  23. eyeroll
    3 Feb 11
    5:24 pm

  24. Can’t wait for this to be torn to bits on the Gruen Transfer.

  25. Tel
    5 Feb 11
    9:03 am

  26. Ad-blockers just got that bit more valuable.

    With bigger banners they will be easier for the ad-blockers to detect, so the blockers become more effective too. But it’s your website, be my guest and fill it with whatever you like, if it get’s annoying enough I won’t go there and neither will anyone else; certainly not twice.

    Hey I’ve just had this great idea for advertising… offer a decent product! This could go viral any minute.

  27. js
    7 Feb 11
    10:08 am

  28. Creative agencies blaming the technical limitations of the medium for their late files? This happens in print as well, and the solution is the same: manage your workflow properly, and hire production staff that know what they’re doing.

  29. Anonymous
    11 Feb 11
    1:49 pm

  30. Yes because flash banners are surely the “way forward” into the future. LOL.