Welcome to the AutoTrader.com Online Advertising Guide

From technical specifications to creative guidelines, here is everything you need to develop a successful ad on AutoTrader.com.

Advertising Guidelines

Guiding Principles

AutoTrader.com is committed to maintaining the following principles in advertising:

  • ATC provides a stronger ROI for our customers' advertising dollars than traditional media and online competitors
  • ATC strives to maintain a quality consumer experience at all times
  • ATC utilizes the most effective technology solutions to serve targeted advertising content
  • ATC offers a streamlined product set to simplify the business process
  • ATC adheres to strict standard of decency in advertising content
  • ATC is committed to continuously developing and delivering innovative online advertising solutions to remain a market leader

Requirements Overview

AutoTrader.com has developed a comprehensive guide to advertising and rich media for the consumer site. This includes supported vendors,formats, and governing standards. Our goal is to support a wide variety of product that can be used to satisfy the growing demands of our automotive advertisers. Product Management serves as an advocate for every area of the business, facilitating the connection between media vendors, sales and our advertisers.

Content Guidelines

  • AutoTrader.com requires that all advertisements be in 'good taste' (as determined by the publisher') and not include vulgarity, hate, and/or sexually explicit content
  • AutoTrader.com reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to reject or discontinue, for any reason and at any time, any advertising for any product or service.
  • AutoTrader.com reserves the right to make changes and/or exceptions to these guidelines at any time in its sole discretion.
  • Advertisers must agree to be bound by any such changes.
  • Nothing in this document is intended to constitute an offer to enter into a binding agreement, and this document should not be viewed as such.

Clear Distinction from AutoTrader.com

All ads should have:

  • Border
  • Advertiser name
  • Logo
  • Ads may not be designed to blend into the screen to give the appearance of AutoTrader.com content/functionality.


Not allowed:

  • Pixelated or unclear designs/logos/images
  • Imagery that appears to have functionality but does not; such as drop-down menus, radio buttons, etc....
  • Ads cannot mimic the colors or look & feel of AutoTrader.com without approval
  • Imagery that does not accurately reflect what is being offered which could mislead the consumer.

Avoid Deceptive Messaging

Ads may not use faux operational error messaging or symbols, i.e., a "your system may be vulnerable" message, icons signifying system problems, system folders or icons, system status indicators/message, etc.


Advertisers CANNOT set cookies on AutoTrader.com sites without written permission.


  • No host-initiated banner audio is permitted. All audio must be user initiated by click( Where Host-initiated animation is the permitted; accompanying audio must be off until user-initiated by click)
  • All user initiated audio must be initiated by click
  • Visible Stop/Play and pause or mute functionality MUST be visible
  • Looping: User can select additional loops by using play functionality


  • Video may be host initiated except on the Homepage
  • Max Time: 30 seconds
  • Audio is defaulted to "Off" and must be user initiated by click
  • Must contain functioning stop/pause and play, and audio controls
  • Looping: User can select additional loops by using play functionality

Bandwidth Detection Required

  • 115 kbps and above = Host-initiated video experience
  • Under 115 kbps = User-initiated video / back-up graphic (GIF, JPEG, SWF) / or appropriately encoded Host-initiated video
  • Video must be engineered to load after all page elements have loaded (JavaScript "onLoad()")

File Size Restrictions and Video

  • 1MB Broadband
  • 500k Narrowband


Version: 5,6 or 7

Frame Rate: 12-18 fps. Adobe(Macromedia) recommends keeping the frame rate as low as possible.

Backup GIF: A backup GIF must be supplied in order to ensure smooth delivery

Clicktags/Tracking: Click-through functions must use the "Get URL" command.

The action script code needed for the button layer in your Flash file should look exactly as it is below.
**Keep the button on its own layer at the top of all the layers so it is never covered.



Following are requirements for submitting HTML creative:

  • Ads must be live and fully functioning at time of submission
  • No JavaScript except for onChange events (No <SCRIPT> tags)
  • No nested TABLEs
  • Reference images locally and submit image fragments along with the HTML code
  • Do not include <HTML>, <META>, <HEAD>, <TITLE> or <BODY> tags
  • No divs (No <div> tags)
  • No cascading style sheets(CSS)
  • No flash fragments
  • The only acceptable FORM method is GET. Method=POST is not allowed
  • Image maps must be client-side
  • No "mailto" tags
  • Forms must have a unique name
  • The arrangement of the form and table tags should be as follows: <FORM><TABLE></TABLE></FORM>
  • Target URL may not exceed 200 characters
  • Use a color palette of 256 or less adaptive colors with flat, web-safe colors
  • Designer must test creatives across all major browsers and versions prior to submission. At minimum, Netscape versions 4.0 and higher and Internet Explorer versions 5.0 and higher must be tested.