Recent updates to this section include:
- Pre-roll and mid-roll guidelines updated.
- Producers may now use either “Support provided by:” above the 300x250 unit or "Providing support for pbs.org” below the unit
- The fold has been more clearly defined as the first 600 vertical pixels of the webpage for the purposes of the 300x250 unit's placement. The unit must appear entirely within this space.
Visual Guide to Sponsorship Elements
For a visual guide to how the sponsorship elements described below work together on a page, please download the PBS.org Sponsorship Acknowledgment Guide.
Standard Message Requirements
All new and redesigned websites within the PBS.org domain must carry standard sponsorship inventory.
Display units: For display, a standard 300x250 pixel sponsorship unit must be used. This unit must appear on the website home page and every page of the website, including pages that feature streaming video. The unit must appear entirely within the first 600 vertical pixels of the webpage. In addition, the following text must appear near the unit as specified:
- If above the sponsorship unit: “Support provided by:”
- If below the sponsorship unit: “Providing support for pbs.org”
In either case, Producer should also provide a link to “Learn more,” which should direct the user to the following page on pbs.org: http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/aboutpbs_whatisthis_banners.html
Producer should allocate an additional 20 pixels to accommodate this text.
Video: For streaming video that is 3 minutes in length or longer, the video player will carry a standard pre-roll message. Mid-rolls are also inserted into long-form programming at select chapter breaks. For any chapterized video longer than 20 minutes, there is a mid-roll ad slot at the first chapter break between 8-15 minutes. For any chapterized video longer than 40 minutes, there is a second mid-roll ad slot at the first chapter break between 20-27 minutes. If there are no chapter breaks identified within these windows, then no mid-roll will be displayed. Each pre- and mid-roll message can be up to 30 seconds in length. All in-stream message delivery is managed by PBS. All required sponsorship will be served using PBS-provided ad serving and tracking code.
Producers who wish to use the standard banner and video sponsorship inventory to acknowledge corporate funders should contact Gina Felix at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. When these units are not used by producers to acknowledge corporate funders, PBS will aggregate and sell general sponsorship across PBS content verticals. When no sponsorships have been sold, PBS will fill any unused space with house promotions at its discretion.
Display Messaging: Additional Sponsorship Messages on Program Websites
In addition to any Standard Message Requirements outlined above, producers may include basic recognition for their production funders. This additional recognition may appear on any program site page, per the message-to-content proportion limits described in Section 3 below. The following Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)-compliant units are acceptable for recognizing production funders:
Examples of these sizes can be seen on the IAB website at http://www.iab.net/standards/adunits.asp.
PBS must approve any other unit sizes in advance. All units must appear in the perimeter of the program site page design (top, right column, left column, bottom). They must be static in nature and may not contain any animation.
Display Messaging: Message-to-Content Proportion on Program Websites
The sum total of all sponsorship acknowledgements appearing on any page of a website may not exceed 20% of the area on that page, even if a portion of the page is "below the fold" or requires scrolling. This percentage applies to the total number of pixels allocated to a site design at the required resolution defined in this Manual for program sites.
Any program funder recognition that appears in conjunction with the PBS Standard Message Requirements identified in Section 1 above must still comply with the 20% space limit. For example, if three program funders are acknowledged with logo badges on a program site page, PBS will consider those badges when reviewing the percentage of overall sponsorship messages to content, including the required 300x250 pixel unit.
As described above, standard pre-roll messages up to 30 seconds in length will be included in video streams that are 3 minutes in length or longer and mid-roll messages will also be inserted into chapterized content that is longer than 20 minutes in length. Producers who wish to use this inventory for corporate funders must contact Gina Felix (email@example.com) for additional information.
Downloadable Media (Audio and Video Podcasts)
All downloadable media must comply with current PBS standards and specifications as outlined by PBS, including the inclusion of any required PBS identifiers within individual files and/or as part of the audio/video player.
Program funders may be acknowledged within the visual environment around the downloadable media player used on the program site. The overall 20% rule referenced in Section 3 will apply to player environments.
Program funders may also be acknowledged with a streamed or downloaded message.
All messages must be preceded by the following preamble language: "Support for this program provided by..." Any other preamble language must be approved in advance by PBS.
All messages must adhere to the PBS Guidelines for On-air Underwriting Messages. If a :15 spot is approved for PBS air, then its use is acceptable within a podcast.
Only one audio or video sponsorship message is allowed per download (clip or full episode). Producers may alternate or rotate program funders among media elements, if desired. A sponsorship message can be placed in the following ways:
- Near beginning of file: If placed near the beginning of an audio or video download, sponsorship messages may be preceded by program content, in a manner similar to placement of sponsor messages in broadcast content. It may also be the first element heard when the content is requested by the user.
- End of stream or download: The producer may opt to place the sponsorship message after the stream has concluded (post-roll).
To the degree that a producer is contractually obligated to acknowledge a philanthropic funder for a specific program, PBS may allow a second acknowledgment at the end of the stream to identify these philanthropic organizations by name only, in accordance with the message length parameters listed below.
- Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all program funders in promotional clips that are at least 1 minute in length.
- Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all program funders in a program segment under 2 minutes in length.
- Up to :15 may be used to acknowledge all program funders in a program segment or episode over 2 minutes in length.
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.
Creative Message Guidelines
The attributes and overall effect of each online sponsorship message must be in keeping with the noncommercial nature of PBS.
Accordingly, online sponsorship messages may not contain:
- Superlatives or other qualitative or comparative language
- Price or value information
- Inducements to buy
- Calls to action – however, nontransactional language, including a shorthand way of directing the user to click for more information about the sponsor may be accepted.
More detailed message guidelines can be seen here: http://www.nationalpublicmedia.com/specs/.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and PBS reserves the right to reject any message content that it deems inappropriate, for any reason. If a message is approved for broadcast on PBS, it is generally considered acceptable within the online environment as long as it complies with the message length limitations and other specs outlined herein. 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.
Some commercial techniques are unique to the online environment. These are examples of what is unacceptable for use in PBS sponsorship messages:
- Strobing, pop-ups and pop-unders
- Extending beyond the space dedicated without user initiation
- Failing to retract to the dedicated space upon user scroll off
- Beginning audio and/or video clips without user initiation
- Preventing users from ending audio and/or video clips
- Deceptively mimicking computer functions