The super leaderboard is a relatively new ad unit that has been introduced as an alternative to the traditional 728×90 leaderboard that is a component of the Universal Ad Package. This leaderboard is slightly wider than the standard leaderboard (click to see actual size):
The larger size of the super leaderboard allows advertisers to fit additional messaging within their ad. The non-traditional size of this ad unit may also be effective in combating banner blindness among visitors who are used to seeing smaller ads.
Sites with designs that include padding around a traditional 728×90 leaderboard (121 pixels minimum on either side) should be able to enable that position to serve ads of either size. For example, the page below from The Wall Street Journal could easily render either a standard 728×90 leaderboard or a wider super leaderboard that is 970 pixels wide:
Some sites also offer a 970×66 super leaderboard, which is slightly shorter than the more common version. In many cases, this shorter super leaderboard is also implemented as an expandable ad. Below is an example of this in action on CNET:
Like other ad units, super leaderboards can be made to expand either automatically or on a user click. Below is an example of a 970×66 super leaderboard that expands downward to a much larger size:
The super leaderboard ad unit has a lot of potential, but limited effectiveness at present.
Because many advertisers continue to prefer the more widely used 728×90 size, there is limited advertiser demand for the larger ad unit at present. That means that if you’re using a CPC ad network such as Google AdSense, inserting a 970×90 ad is probably not a good idea. Because relatively few advertisers have a 970×90 ad unit, it may be difficult for the ad network to find ads that are relevant to your content and audience. That leads to a lower click rate and lower earnings.
However, as noted above, it is possible to set ad units to accept creatives of multiple sizes. So, for example, if there is sufficient room an ad unit could be set to accept either a 728×90 or a 970×90 leaderboard. That gives the ad network even more flexibility; it will likely serve up primarily 728×90 leaderboards (since there are more ads to choose from) but will work in a super leaderboard when it is expected to generate higher revenue.
If more advertisers begin creating 970×90 ad units, this may eventually be an opportunity to generate some incremental revenue above traditional leaderboards.