Gif89a Banner Ads from the late 90's

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with the team that I worked with in 1997, at a company called k2 Design Inc. The firm quickly grew from 30 to nearly 100 people while I was there. Because it was so new, and there was so much innovation, the whole thing was sort of exciting an frustrating at the same time.

One area that was growing, was digitaldisplay advertising, or online banner ads. The most economical way of producing and distributing display ads continues to be the animated gif, or GIF89a. When I was an intern at Agency.com I completed a research project on the GIF, in order to understand animation, compression, and palettes.


When I started working as an Art Director out of school in (1997-1998), one of the biggest challenges was translating brand advertising into the paid media formats of the time. The file size limits were closely controlled as not to ruin the user experience. So 468x60 banners had to be under 12k, sometimes if you were lucky you could get 15k.  Below are some tests that I did to demonstrate some ideas.

 3 frames / 10k / 9 colors – Fire

3 frames / 10k / 9 colors – Fire

 6 frames / 11k / 13 colors - Random Attention getting banner.

6 frames / 11k / 13 colors - Random Attention getting banner.

 9 frames / 12k / 32 Colors- VolksWagen

9 frames / 12k / 32 Colors- VolksWagen

 10 frames / 11k / 16 colors - Mitsubishi Motors

10 frames / 11k / 16 colors - Mitsubishi Motors

 132 frames / 10k / 16 colors - Financial Services

132 frames / 10k / 16 colors - Financial Services