Creatives FAQ

! Important If you are not tracking your ads with a 3rd party ad server (DoubleClick, Sizmek aka Mediamind, Pointroll), you will not find your answer here. This FAQ is indended for campaigns that are running via 3rd-party ad servers.

Creative Specs on Standard Banners

IAB Canada specs are found here.

IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) is a non-profit organization, representing media companies globally. The IAB develops industry standards (like the specs below), conducts research, and provides education on the online advertising industry.

Flash banners

  • Both of these are required, read more here:
    • SWF, maximum file size 40kb with clicktags
    • And JPG (or PNG, GIF), maximum file size 40KB
  • 1x1 gray border, preferably
  • Dimensions can be (but not limited to): 300x250, 728x90, 160x600, 120x600
  • Animation must be 30 seconds or shorter, or animation can loop maximum of 3 times.

Tip For dimensions 300x600, file size can be up to 60kb depending on the vendor.

Static banners

  • JPG (or PNG, GIF), maximum file size 40KB
  • Dimensions can be (but not limited to): 300x250, 728x90, 160x600, 120x600
  • 1x1 gray border, preferably
  • For GIFs, animation cannot loop more than 3 times

Mobile / Tablet banners

  • JPG (or PNG, GIF), maximum file size __
  • Dimensions can be (but not limited to): 300x50, 320x50, 300x250, 728x90

HTML5 banners

IAB specs to come in Q4 2014!

Geo-targeted banners

If your client's product has different offers for different provinces, ideally we should have:

  • Targeted banners (following the above specs), and
  • A "general" / non-targeted banner without the offer

Specs on Pre-roll / Video

  • .MOV
  • 1080p
  • Preferably 25mb to 75mb

If this video is site-served (or custom-made), please make sure to follow publisher's specs instead.

Rich Media


What is this?
Creative agencies upload these directly to the ad server.
When do we use this?
If your flash banners are too large (40kb and above), you may upload this as rich media. In-banner videos are also rich media. Expandable banners are rich media. Some vendors allow wallpapers to be served as rich media.
This will depend on the website. There are no general specs for rich media creatives. (Almost) anything is possible.

What is the process?

  1. Creative agencies must build these creatives in the ad server. In DoubleClick, it's called Rich Media Studio.
  2. After creatives are built, creative agencies submit them to QA.
  3. The ad server QA team will review the creative, and they make sure there are no issues. This can take from 24 hours to 5 business days, depending on how complicated the creative is.
  4. Once the rich media creative is ready, let your ad ops team know.
  5. Your ad ops team will create a tag for this creative and send to the vendor. Depending on how large the campaign is, trafficking takes 3 to 5 business days.
  6. The vendor will review the tags (especially tags running rich media). This review will take 3-5 business days as well.
  7. If this rich media creative (inside the tag) runs smoothly on the websites, it's good to go. Campaign can be pushed live.

What is considered "rich media"?

The following creatives are rich media, and they must be built in the ad server:

  • Polite loading flash - This creative acts like a normal Flash creative. But once the webpage finishes loading, the creative will actually download additional creatives (up to 2.2MB size). Having this 2.2MB additional size gives creative agency the room to do fancy-looking things.
  • Expanding creatives - This creative will open (like a book).
  • In-banner video - A video/pre-roll can only run in video players (like YouTube). However an in-banner video can be leaderboards (728x90), big box (300x250), and even custom sizes, and they are able to run anywhere on the page.
  • Floating banners - These creatives float above and covers the website (for a brief moment).

For specs, you'll find them in the IAB Guidelines.

Why do we need a backup image with flash and rich media?

Not all computers (or phones, tablets, etc.) can view Flash animated creatives or Rich Media creatives. For these users, the ad server will serve them the "backup" image.

What is a backup image?

JPG (or PNG, GIF) static banner. It must have the same dimensions as the flash banner or rich media creative.

How many backup images do you need?

Every flash/rich media banner should have 1 backup image. For example:

  • If we have a 300x250 flash and a 728x90 flash banner, we will need one 300x250 backup image and one 728x90 backup image.
  • If we have a 300x250 "version 1" flash banner and 300x250 "version 2" flash banner, we will need one 300x250 "version 1" backup image and one 300x250 "version 2" backup image.

Backup image vs. Default Ad

Every flash/rich media banner needs one backup image. Every ad tag needs one Default Ad.

For example:

  1. When we upload a 300x250 flash banner to the ad server, we will also upload the 300x250 backup image.
  2. We will send the 300x250 tag to the vendor.
  3. When the vendor places this tag on the website:
    • Users will see the 300x250 flash banner
    • Users with mobile or tablet will see the 300x250 backup image
    • Users who are not supposed to see this tag (ex. wrong geo-targeting, this tag is out of date, this tag is not yet live) will see the 300x250 default ad.

Why do we have Default Ads?

The ad server automatically creates default ads. Default ads are used for these situations:

  • When we have a 300x250 banner geo-targeted to Ontario, a 300x250 banner geo-targeted to Quebec. Anybody who sees this ad (but are outside of Ontario and Quebec) will see the default ad. Even if the tags are set up to geo-target Ontario and Quebec, users can visit an Ontario website (but they are physically in Vancouver) and they will see the default ad. Sometimes the vendors can incorrectly geo-target the wrong provinces.
  • Ads that are geo-targeted to Canada, users in the States will see the default ad.
  • The campaign has ended on June 3, but the vendor forgot to turn off the tags. Users who see this tag after June 3 will see the default ad.
  • The tag is turned off on the ad server.

Why don't they see the backup instead of the default ad?

For example, we have a 300x250 creative (Flash and backup image) targeted to users in Ontario.

  • Users who are in Ontario will see the Flash banner.
  • Users who are in Ontario and are using a mobile phone will see the backup image.
  • Users who are outside of Ontario will see the default ad.
  • Users who are outside of Ontario and are using a mobile phone will see the default ad.

How often do users see the default ads?

Answer still to come. (Aug 29, 2014: Please remind me if it looks like I forgot.)

How do I know if creatives meet the specs?

If these creatives are rich media, only the ad ops team can preview them. For everything else:

Standard Banners

  1. Check Flash banners here then

Rich Media

  1. After rich media creatives passed QA processing, let ad ops team know: creative name and creative ID.
  2. Ad ops team will need to traffic this creative to the vendor.
  3. The vendor will send a test page for approval.


It's okay, don't bother. Send the ad-ops team the pre-roll (please make sure it's less than 75MB).