How “Rabbit Ear” Ad Units Work

Taking a web advertising lesson from Dan Ambrose on “rabbit ear” ads, and how they’re sold and distributed on

We recently got a question from one of our Mequoda Summit attendees, referencing Dan Ambrose’s Internet Advertising Basics session.

“At the summit, I got all enthused about “rabbit ear ads” (I think that’s what they’re called—the ads on either side at the top), but they seem to have disappeared from the New York Times, etc. Now, all the rage seems to be the rich media banners. Any thoughts on this?”

Here was Ambrose’s answer:

First, these are really two separate issues… the placement and size of the ad units, and the creative content of the units.

The “ears” that offers on its home page only run when they are sold… so some days or for some page-views they may not be there.  They are today – for me.

As you can see Continental Air is in the ears today.  If they bought a million impressions today and the site was delivering 2 million, they might only appear in 1 of every 2 pages served.

Also it could be that the ads are geo-targeted.

However, rich media is an opportunity of interest to many advertisers.

You can (technically) put rich media into any shape ad unit.  The unit simply represents the space within which the rich media resides…or grows out of in a ‘mouse-over-expandable.’

The NYTimes may not allow distracting animations, or videos or expandables in the ears due to respect for their readers…but technically they could.”

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When our attendee went back to, he noticed that the ads were back.

Says Ambrose, “for most ad-units, the unsold spot is filled with a house ad or network delivered remnant filler.  In the case of the ears they appear only when sold.”

What about you, do you have any questions about selling or developing ad units?

We’ve just uploaded the recent Internet Advertising Basics webinar (and previous Summit session) we held with Dan Ambrose to Mequoda Pro today. When you become a member of Mequoda Pro, you can watch this online seminar and ten more on-demand at your convenience.

You’ll have access to our Q&A forums to ask questions like this that will be answered by us in under 72 hours.

So go ahead, join Mequoda Pro and lay your questions on us!


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