Members of the Online Publishers Association have decided that bigger is better in their quest for brand-advertising dollars, and 26 members of the group are adopting a new set of three interactive ad units to get agency minds on better creative and off low-CPM ad networks.
The publishers, including Martha Stewart Living, Conde Nast Digital, Discovery and CBS Interactive, have agreed to only direct-sell the new units, and not sell them through ad networks. The new ads will run alone on the page, giving advertisers exclusivity that publishers hope they'll pay a premium for
The units are standardized, but big enough to do real brand advertising in, advertising that will make you remember when you're in the grocery that this soup in the red and white can is m'm, m'm, good. The ads are also big enough to annoy consumers, who have gotten used to ad formats they can automatically ignore. But being annoying doesn't mean they won't work (cf. direct mail, TV ads.) The ads may even garner fewer click-throughs because of annoyed consumers, but CTR is not the metric these ads are measured on. They're branding ads, not sales ads.
I think these new ads will start to ask the consumer to 'pay' true value for content. They will work in front of content that has high value-density*: people will tolerate these ads in order to get to the New York Times, but they won't tolerate them to get to their Facebook page. This also means the ads are not especially amenable to the ad network/ad exchange model because there is a limited group of high value-density websites that can use them without bouncing readers.
If the publishers are smart, they'll keep the value-add piece of the digital model--the automated ordering and placement, the targeting, the tracking, etc.--and increase CPMs at the same time.
* Look ma, I'm making up words! My point is not that Facebook content is not valuable, but that it's valuable in a different way. FB's value is spread out over more time and more views; the value of each view to me is less than the value of each view of the NYT (but I have more FB views overall.) The value per view should correlate directly with the CPM, in theory. In contrast, the ad network/ad exchange model has caused CPMs to correlate to the value of the viewer, not the view, causing a disconnect between what the viewer is willing to pay for content and what is actually paid.