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FUNDING STANDARDS AND PRACTICES

 

Operating Parameters for Sponsorship Acknowledgment on Program Web Sites

  1. Message-to-Content Proportion
  2. Specific Parameters for Enhanced Sponsorship Messages on Program Web Sites
  3. Program Sites Containing Music
  4. Categorical Exclusions
  5. Strictly Prohibited Units/Creative/Message Content
  6. Strict Review
For more information or questions concerning online sponsorship guidelines and parameters, please contact Angela Lunter, 703-739-5016, aslunter@pbs.org, in Online Sponsorship.

A. Message-to-Content Proportion

Displaying Messaging:

All sponsorship acknowledgements may not exceed 20% of the area on a given page, even if a portion of that page is “below the fold” or requires scrolling. This 20% would also apply to any treatment within an application, such as a video player skin. This percentage applies to the number of pixels allocated to a site design at the required resolution defined in the PBS Web Manual for program sites. Specific parameters regarding message placement are described below.

Enhanced sponsorship may appear in conjunction with standard sponsor acknowledgements identified in the PBS Web Producers Manual, but the 20% space limit will continue to apply. For example, if three program sponsors are acknowledged with standard badges on a program site, PBS will consider those badges when reviewing the percentage of overall sponsorship messages to content.

Audio and Video messaging:

In the case of audio and video content, the percentage of time allocated to sponsorship messages varies, depending on the total length of the segment. (Specific parameters regarding message placement are below.) However, the video and audio environment is rapidly evolving, and standard lengths for non-content messages continue to decline. In order to maintain the non-commercial nature of our site and support a positive user experience, non-program messaging should be kept to the most appropriate level possible, as defined below.



B. Specific Parameters for Enhanced Sponsorship Messages on Program Web Sites

  1. Images or Banners

  2. Up to two small, or one large and one small enhanced sponsorship unit may be included on a program site page in addition to any standard messaging (assuming the 20% limit holds). The following Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)-compliant units are acceptable:

    • Small: 88x31, 120x90, 120x60
    • Large: 180x150, 728x90, 160x600, 120x600, 300x250

    Examples of these sizes can be seen on the IAB web site here: http://www.iab.net/standards/adunits.asp

    Any other unit sizes must be approved in advance by PBS.

    All units must appear in the perimeter of the program site page design (top, right column, left column, bottom)

    No more than half of the total enhanced sponsorship space can appear “above the fold,” as it applies to the total pixels allocated per the required resolution defined in the PBS Web Manual for program sites.

    PBS user research shows that animation in banner creative should be used sparingly, if at all, within the program sites. The inclusion of animation should be considered carefully by the producer in regard to the user experience and overall tone of the program site. If images and banners are animated, they must adhere to the following specifications:

    • For GIF or JPEG Images: up to 3 loops; maximum animation length: 15 seconds
    • For Flash: primary Flash file animation is limited to first 15 seconds; continuous looping animation not accepted

  3. Sponsor Pages or Mini-Sites

  4. Must be labeled “Sponsor Content” or “Sponsor Page.”

    Must be hosted on PBS.org within the program site, and should appear as such to the user. It may not be hosted on any other domain.

    Promotional content on this page must adhere to the Message Content Guidelines outlined below.

    Messages that seek to promote the reasons behind the sponsors’ support of a particular program are encouraged.

    Sponsor pages may not contain content that looks like or may be perceived as editorial content (blogs, advertorials, etc.)

    Can be linked from the program site navigation, as long as it is clearly labeled as sponsor content.

    Can be linked from any sponsorship images or banners appearing on the program site.

  5. Video/Video Podcasts

  6. All video/video podcasts must comply with current PBS standards and specifications as outlined by PBS, including the inclusion of any required PBS identifiers within individual video streams and/or as part of the video player.

    Sponsors may be acknowledged visually within the “skin” of the media player used to stream video messages within a program site. This is an effective way to persistently acknowledge the sponsor(s) in the video experience.

    • A static 88x31 pixel logo may be used for each sponsor.
    • Logos are persistent in the player “skin” during the stream.
    • No more than 6 logos may appear within the player skin at any given time.
    • Logos must appear within the perimeter of the player frame (top, bottom, left column, right column).

    Sponsors may also be acknowledged with a streamed video message. Producers should be aware that in respect to the user experience, industry trends are changing rapidly. Additionally, without the ad serving technology in place to marry sponsor credits with content in a consistent way, producers that opt to introduce video sponsorship at this time should plan and be prepared for:

    • Changes to the Internet sponsorship parameters – due to the quick-changing landscape around video sponsorship and distribution, the specific parameters outlined below are subject to change.
    • Third-party distribution of video – as PBS and producers seek to distribute video elsewhere online, consideration must be given to those parties that will not accept video segments with embedded sponsorship credits.

    Producers must adhere to the parameters outlined in this document, but to the degree that specific PBS parameters for video sponsorship messages change, existing implementations will be “grandfathered” and will not require that the producer retroactively update those messages.

    All streaming video messages must be preceded by the following preamble language: “Support for this program provided by…”

    Message Placement:

    • Only one video corporate sponsorship message is allowed per clip. Producers may alternate or rotate corporate sponsors among message clips, if desired.

      • Near beginning of clip: If placed near the beginning of a video clip, video sponsorship messages must be preceded by program content, in a manner similar to placement of sponsorship recognition on broadcast. The video sponsorship message may not be the first element viewed when video content is requested by the user.

      • End of clip: The producer may opt to place the video sponsorship message after the clip has concluded (post-roll).

        • To the degree that a producer is contractually obligated to acknowledge a foundation funder for a specific program, PBS will allow a second acknowledgment at the end of the clip to identify these philanthropic organizations by name only, in accordance with the message length parameters listed below.

    Message Length:

    • Promotional Clips

      • Sponsors may be acknowledged by company/organization/brand name and tagline only.
      • Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in promotional clips that are at least 1 minute in length.

    • Program Segment

      • Sponsors may be acknowledged by company/organization/brand name only.
      • Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in a program segment under 2 minutes in length.
      • Up to :15 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in a program segment over 2 minutes in length.

    • Full program stream

      • Up to: 15 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in a full program stream.
      • For full streams only, producer may use the existing broadcast underwriting credit pod that has been approved for on-air. This credit must appear in the same location as the program broadcast, and must be fast forwardable. If the full broadcast credit is used, the producer may not insert any other sponsorship messages in the full program stream.

    The preamble language will be considered in conjunction with the time limits outlined above. In the case when an on-air credit is repurposed for use online, the producer is responsible for clearing all rights for that credit to be streamed. Slates are highly encouraged for :07 spots, and when there are multiple funders that cannot all be acknowledged by name in audio in the time allotted.

  7. Audio/Podcasts

  8. All audio/podcasts must comply with current PBS standards and specifications as outlined by PBS, including the inclusion of any required PBS identifiers within individual audio streams and/or as part of the audio player.

    Sponsors may be acknowledged within the “skin” of the media player used to stream audio messages within a program site.

    • A static 88x31 pixel logo may be used for each sponsor.
    • Logos are persistent in the player during the stream.
    • No more than 6 logos may appear within the player skin at any given time.
    • Logos may only appear at the bottom of the player frame.

    Sponsors may also be acknowledged with a streamed or downloaded audio message.

    All audio messages must be preceded by the following preamble language: “Support for this program provided by…”

    Producers must adhere to the parameters outlined in this document, but to the degree that specific PBS parameters for audio sponsorship messages change, existing implementations will be “grandfathered” and will not require that the producer retroactively update those messages.

    Message Placement:

    • Only one video corporate sponsorship message is allowed per clip. Producers may alternate or rotate corporate sponsors among message clips, if desired.

      • Near beginning of clip: If placed near the beginning of a video clip, video sponsorship messages must be preceded by program content, in a manner similar to placement of sponsorship recognition on broadcast. The video sponsorship message may not be the first element viewed when video content is requested by the user.

      • End of clip: The producer may opt to place the video sponsorship message after the clip has concluded (post-roll).

        • To the degree that a producer is contractually obligated to acknowledge a foundation funder for a specific program, PBS will allow a second acknowledgment at the end of the clip to identify these philanthropic organizations by name only, in accordance with the message length parameters listed below.

    Message Length:

    • Promotional Clips

      • Sponsors may be acknowledged by company/organization/brand name and tagline only.
      • Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in promotional clips that are at least 1 minute in length.

    • Program Segment

      • Sponsors may be acknowledged by company/organization/brand name only.
      • Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in a program segment under 2 minutes in length.
      • Up to :15 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in a program segment over 2 minutes in length.

    • Full program stream

      • Up to: 15 may be used to acknowledge all sponsors in a full program stream.
      • For full streams only, producer may use the existing broadcast underwriting credit pod that has been approved for on-air. This credit must appear in the same location as the program broadcast, and must be fast forwardable. If the full broadcast credit is used, the producer may not insert any other sponsorship messages in the full program stream.

    The preamble language will be considered in conjunction with the time limits outlined above. In the case when an on-air credit is repurposed for use online, the producer is responsible for clearing all rights for that credit to be streamed.



C. Program Sites Containing Music

As PBS continues to assess its current rights position, producers shall be responsible for ensuring that any sponsorship message that appears on a web page that also includes video streaming containing music must substantially conform to the PBS on-air sponsor practices and guidelines for sponsor messages, most notably the parameters around calls-to-action and competitive/promotional claims.



D. Categorical Exclusions

The following sponsor material is inappropriate for PBS.org and will not be accepted under any circumstances (this list is for illustrative purposes and does not include all types of material that PBS may find objectionable):
  • Tobacco of any kind

  • Weapons of any kind

  • Alcohol, except wine or beer

  • Illicit drugs

  • Pornography/adult content/adult themes

  • Gambling

  • Political entities or messages that express a political view about a matter of public importance or opposes/supports a political candidate (lobbyists, political advocacy groups, etc.)

  • Material promoting religious conversion or religious participation

  • Material that violates laws, rules or regulations (slander, libel, etc.)

  • Material that is disguised as editorial content

  • Material promoting violence or advocating against any organization, person or animal (public, private, or protected)

  • Material promoting pyramid or multi-level marketing schemes

  • Material that directly advertises products to children

  • Sponsorship messages for "M" rated video games

  • Sponsorship messages from direct competitors as defined by PBS

  • Sponsorship messages promoting human body parts for transplant purposes.

  • Sponsorship messages offering products made from the fur or hide of animals included on endangered species lists.

  • Sponsorship messages offering the sale of knock-offs, counterfeits or replicas of nationally advertised merchandise.

  • Sponsorship messages for radar detectors or other devices that are designed to enable motorists to evade traffic safety or anti-speed laws.



E. Strictly Prohibited Units/Creative/Message Content

The following types of messaging units and creative are prohibited:
  • Pop-ups or pop-unders

  • Sponsorship messages that extend beyond the space dedicated without user initiation

  • Sponsorship messages that do not retract to the dedicated space upon user scroll off

  • Audio and/or video clips that begins without user initiation

  • Audio and/or video clips that can not be ended with user initiation

  • Sponsorship messages that do not allow users to return to PBS.org by clicking once on the browser's "Back" button

  • Sponsorship messages that strobe

  • Sponsorship messages that deceptively mimic computer functions

  • Sponsorship messages that include a game, contest, sweepstakes for prizes or other compensation, or other enter or register to win scenarios

  • Sponsorship messages that contain excessive capitalization or punctuation

  • Messages containing crude or indecent language

  • Messages that express or imply discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status or disability.

  • Material containing deceptive, fraudulent, misleading, or false information

  • Material considered inappropriate for children, even though it may not explicitly target children (death, sensationalism, frightening images, etc.)

  • Indecent, vulgar, suggestive or other advertising that, in the opinion of PBS, may be offensive to good taste.

  • Unreasonable, unlikely or extraordinary product/service claims

  • An implied affiliation for favored status with PBS, PBS.org or any member station

  • Unauthorized or unapproved use of any PBS, PBS producer, or member station's creative assets (logos, characters, names, etc.)

  • Sponsorship messages containing U.S. Currency that do not comply with U.S. Treasury regulations.

  • Sponsorship messages containing telephone toll line numbers.

  • Sponsorship messages that promote medicines, supplements, or medical devices that lead to self-diagnosis or self-treatment of serious medical conditions, and claim to prevent, treat, or cure serious medical conditions.

  • Sponsorship messages that contain unsubstantiated "miracle" weight loss claims.

  • Sponsorship messages for fortune telling, dream interpretation, and horoscopes when the emphasis is on serious interpretation rather than entertainment.



F. Strict Review

The following sponsor material is questionable and will be subject to PBS' strict review. Particular attention will be paid to the execution of the following message elements:
  • Prescription or over the counter drugs

    • May include drug brand name and indication of the condition/illness treated by the drug
    • May not include statements about the symptoms or nature of the condition/illness treated by the drug or side effects of the drug
    • Drugs/products for use in birth control, personal care or the treatment of sexually related conditions will be subject to review depending on the overall appropriateness of the message and the creative execution

  • Sponsorship messages for "R" rated movies

    • Creative may not contain (in text or images) any vulgar, sexual or violent themes (see above)
    • Content/themes should be in keeping with the context of the PBS site and content

  • Controversial topics

    • Vulgar, sexual, violent, and discriminatory content (text or images) are not permitted (see above)

  • Material that contains superlatives

    • Superlatives may not be used to make extraordinary product claims (see above)
    • Superlatives may not be used to support prohibited calls to action (see below)
    • Excessive use of superlatives is not permitted

  • Material that makes competitive claims

    • Direct reference to specific competitors is prohibited
    • Extraordinary and unsubstantiated claims are not permitted (see above)

  • Calls to action:

    • Calls to action can not be the primary focus of the creative
    • Visually intrusive text or images are prohibited
    • Can not imply specific (time/day) deadlines
    • Can not focus on discounting or price offers
    • Can not imply any personal or general penalty for failure to act
    • Calls to action should be unique to the message, service or product provided.
    • Landing page must relate directly to the content of the ad

  • Pricing/Offers:

    • Price and value offers are not permitted Ex: Flights from $109, Available from $15,995, Now $25.95, Only $12.95, valued at $199.95.
    • Purchase with purchase or gift with purchase offers are not permitted Ex: buy one - get one free, free gift with purchase.
    • Limited time savings offers are not permitted
    • Ex: order now and save



January 27, 2008.

 

PBS Production Guidelines
*PBS Editorial Standards and Practices
*PBS National Program Funding Standards and Practices
*Operating Parameters for Sponsorship Acknowledgment on Program Web Sites
*PBS Guidelines for On-Air Announcements Promoting Program-Related Goods and Services

 

 


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