REDMOND, Washington: Microsoft is joining forces with Yahoo, CBS Interactive and Hulu in an effort to establish standard formats for online video ads, partnering with Publicis Group agencies Starcom MediaVest and VivaKi.

Operating under the moniker The Pool, the scheme will start with around 30 video ad formats, with five going forward for testing in focus groups.

The two most popular will then be tested online, and some of Starcom MediaVest's clients have agreed to buy ads in the most successful format.

Designs under consideration include videos enabling viewers to choose which ad they watch, and content allowing web users to click on content, which will then display more information in a new window.

Marketers including auto insurer Allstate, financial services provider Capital One and restaurant chain Applebee's have also joined The Pool. 

Establishing standard content forms could improve efficiency in terms of production, pricing and measurement, and may also encourage marketers to invest in online video during the downturn.

Curt Hecht, president of VivaKi, humbly pronounces: "We have enough marketplace push to put a standard in the marketplace."

Research firm eMarketer estimates online video advertising will be worth $850 million (€654m; £618m) in the US in 2009, up 45% year-on-year.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff