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Tech Players Question IAB's Rich Media Guidelines

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@contenu.nu>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 21:01:33 -0400
Message-Id: <a0510031eb7a36e67ef4c@[]>
To: w3c-wai-gl@W3.org
Is the use of autoplaying video and audio ads not a violation of one 
or more Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, specifically those 
requiring the user to have control over processes, changes of state, 
and flickering?


>Tech Players Question IAB's Rich Media Guidelines
>By Pamela Parker
>When the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) last week released its 
>long-awaited [61]guidelines for rich media, the response was muted, 
>if not completely silent. Sure, a couple of companies sought to 
>capitalize on the event by issuing press releases trumpeting their 
>support, but the community at large seemed to greet the announcement 
>with a collective yawn. These new guidelines, after all, didn't 
>represent a big change from practices that, for many, have already 
>become standard operating procedure.
>Behind the scenes, however, some technology firms are grumbling that 
>the IAB missed an opportunity -- a chance to push the envelope and 
>take a forceful stance in favor of forward-looking rich media.
>"Especially at this moment in the industry's history, to put 
>guidelines out that don't push the standards of what people are 
>doing already, is misguided," said Eric Picard, co-founder and 
>director of product management at Bluestreak.
>There's a fear among some rich media vendors that establishing these 
>guidelines -- even voluntary guidelines -- might result in 
>publishers simply adopting the standards, without making exceptions.
>"We've seen in this industry that standards get grabbed onto very 
>quickly and suddenly and are crystallized," said Picard. That kind 
>of response would nullify technology firms' hard-won progress toward 
>gaining acceptance for cutting-edge rich media.
>"It's really going to do a disservice to the industry, it really 
>is," said John Vincent, founder and chief executive officer of 
>EyeWonder. "An advertiser will think it's harder now to get 
>acceptance, but, in fact, there's never been a site that hasn't been 
>willing to accept EyeWonder."
>Catching a Consumer's Eye
>Vincent's main beef is with the recommendations against audio and 
>video that start automatically when a page loads. The IAB guidelines 
>say that neither audio nor video should start without a user 
>expressly asking for it by clicking on the ad. Some say it's true 
>that audio can intrude on the user experience, but believe video 
>playing by itself shouldn't be treated any differently than, say, 
>Flash animations.
>Other guidelines drawing criticism limit initial downloads to 15k, 
>20k, or 25k (depending on the size of the ad unit), and say that no 
>more content should be downloaded until a user clicks or mouses over 
>the ad.
>"The whole goal of rich media is to attract the attention of the 
>user," said Picard. "You can't do that if you can't add anything 
>until the user clicks on the ad. The ads run, in some cases, will be 
>prohibitively boring."
>That issue -- of boring the user -- is something that concerns Jay 
>Lee, senior marketing manager at Enliven. Rich media is supposed to 
>be engaging, intriguing and surprising, he said, and he fears that 
>standards could result in a lot of ads that look and act alike.
>"If all of a sudden you turn that [rich media] experience into a 
>very generic experience, are we going to lose that element that has 
>made it the choice of a lot of advertisers?," Lee wonders. The whole 
>point of rich media, after all, is to wake somnolent Internet users 
>and get them to notice ads again. If video can only be used after 
>you've already gotten people's attention, it can't serve that 
>Starting a Dialogue
>Of course, boring users or doing a disservice to the industry 
>certainly wasn't the IAB Rich Media Task Force's intention. The idea 
>was to establish a baseline minimum guideline, so that publishers 
>and advertisers would have a common starting point. And the Task 
>Force did say it would reconvene in six to 12 months to revise or 
>add to the guidelines as needed. Vendors were nearly unanimous in 
>expressing respect for the effort.
>"Rich media pushes the envelope on creativity, therefore putting 
>forth a standard that meets every rich media company's guidelines is 
>extremely challenging or impossible," said Jules Gardner, chief 
>executive of Point.Roll, "but these guidelines are a starting place, 
>and it's important that all rich media companies support the 
>initiatives put forth by the IAB."
>"The guidelines are not the whole solution," said Enliven's Lee, 
>"but I think it's really good that they've raised the awareness of 
>the issue, and they've raised the level of discussion in the 
>industry. I think any time you do that with an issue that comes up 
>over and over again, it's a good thing."
>Pamela Parker is managing editor of atNewYork sister sites 
>[62]ChannelSeven.com and [63]Internet Advertising Report. August 17, 

         Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org | <http://joeclark.org/access/>
         Accessibility articles, resources, and critiques |
         "I can't pretend to understand the mind of Joe Clark"
         (Larry Goldberg)
Received on Friday, 17 August 2001 21:26:16 UTC

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