The aesthetic tyranny of online ad formats

Photos and video are two of the largest forms of online content. And most of the times, they come in pretty regular formats: 4:3, 16:9, 320×240, 640×480, 3:2 (photos mostly).

Golden Ratio
Photo by Ryan Tow, under a CC License

And although they are not exactly Golden ratio or Fibonnaci compliant, they offer pleasing formats for the human eye.

And how about online ad formats?

You can find it hard to believe, but the only single decent proportion is a 120×90 button that seldom gets noticed. Most of these formats were adopted for historical reasons (big publishers already using them) but it puzzles me how there wasn’t an aesthetic consideration in choosing a large format in golden ratio proportions. Is it the need to not mistake editorial content with advertising ? In print ads, that’s not something they have to worry about. Is it the need to adjust to common layouts? Usually it’s the opposite, with web design layouts adjusting to fit ad units.

If a 4:3 or 3:2 large format was adopted, besides the aesthetic opportunities, there will be also a gain in production efficiency, as many offline campaigns fit in those ratios.

So, do you think we need a new online ad format that fits the golden ratio?

2 thoughts on “The aesthetic tyranny of online ad formats

  1. In 99.9% of situations, forcing a golden ratio (or any other premier proportion) upon anything serves no real practical purpose. Please explain why you think it is relevant in this case?

  2. Thanks for your comment Brett.

    By no means i say we should force ads to comply to a golden ratio. It’s just that it’s unusual that the great majority of IAB ad formats aren’t event close to a 4:3 or 3:2 proportion, not to mention a golden ratio. Thus, my final question, do we need a new format, that conforms widely accepted aesthetic proportions?

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