Some of it can be attributed to new creative formats, and the ability to do more with standard units. Additional demand can also be seen from the distribution side, with increasingly easier access to inventory. Furthermore, there is the ever-popular shift from CTR as the defining display metric, which is a long and tough battle, but one that people in the display space seem to be winning. And, of course, there is the tremendous amount of "display" inventory available on Facebook. Whatever the topic, the excitement surrounding display advertising is very tangible.
We have bigger screens and much higher screen resolutions today than ever before. As such, it was only natural that larger ad sizes and new creative formats would follow. But these new creative formats and advances in technology are also giving advertisers the ability to do even more with standard ad units. To me, it is one of the most exciting developments in display right now. Not just breaking the mold, but really improving the mold. Bigger ads that are more engaging, more properly targeted and easier to set up -- that is display at its best.
Easy Inventory Access
Things were simpler 15 years ago -- not better, but simpler. If you had a product and wanted to advertise it online, you went to a publisher and bought inventory from them. It was far from being cost-effective, it was tediously time-consuming, and it was very difficult to optimize. Today, access to inventory is at the tip of the finger. There are more choices than ever with ad networks, DSPs, private exchanges, etc., which inevitably creates fragmentation. The fragmentation seemingly should lead to consolidation, but without more people, as Jerry Neumann says, this fragmentation will continue to live on to the benefit of ad tech entrepreneurs.
Beyond the CTR
As more TV dollars are shifting over to display, it's more important than ever to steer away from CTR as the key metric. There was a time when CTR made a lot of sense. With a static flash ad, the only measure was the click. Duh, let's track that. You couldn't put video into a traditional display ad and actually measure how much of it was watched, or if it was shared, or watched multiple times, etc. So the need for other metrics wasn't even established. You couldn't put a downloadable, printable coupon into an ad and track numbers that aren't even meant to generate a click-through. Brands realize the value of display, the dollars are reflecting that, and yet the measurements have not caught up (at least on a universal scale).
The Facebook Effect
Furthermore, this past month it was announced that Facebook overtook Yahoo! in US display advertising sales. It will be interesting to see how Facebook develops their ad platform, and whether they will introduce more engaging ads, similar to what Google has done recently by adding video and other rich functionality into their search ads. I'm also interested to see what the rollout of Facebook Studio means for Brands on Facebook -- will that effort be limited to Fan Pages or will the platform be extended into display ads both on and off Facebook?
What are the next set of barriers that display needs to address to continue to propel forward at this rate? Well, for one, a clear attribution model that properly reflects the value of display. Whatever happened to engagement mapping? I also think the implementation of dynamic display must become easier. There is so much power in the ability to update ads on the fly without the need to re-traffic we're just not realizing yet.
Finally, getting all of this new technology and these new formats into the hands of the creatives will also help us continue to push the boundaries of what can be delivered inside of a banner ad. Overall, the buzz seems to be culminating in the transformation and growth of display into the juggernaut that we've been anticipating.