Report Finds Rich Media 'Ascendant,' Even If Ad Impact Is 'Latent'
The findings, part of DoubleClick's regular series of quarterly ad serving reports, shows rich media advertising formats represented 36.6 percent of the 172 billion ad impressions served during the third quarter of 2003, up from only 31.7 percent during the second quarter of 2003 and 23.2 percent during the third quarter of 2002.
Aside from approaching a critical mass of online ad impressions, the study finds the rate of rich media growth is beginning to accelerate, rising 15 percent during the third quarter versus only 10 percent during the average quarter preceding it.
Rich Media's Share Of Online Ads Served
Share Of Ads Served*
Q1 2002 17.3%
Q2 2002 19.3%
Q3 2002 23.2%
Q4 2002 24.9%
Q1 2003 27.8%
Q2 2003 31.7%
Q3 2003 38.6%
Source: DoubleClick Q3 2003 Ad Serving Trends Report. *By DoubleClick. Q3 2003 Base = 172 billion impressions.
The report utilizes a relatively broad definition of rich media, including any dynamic ads that "fly across a Web page," such as pop-ups, as well as those that include Macromedia Flash applications. The report does not yet break out online video ads, which are also known to be a rapidly growing rich media format, but it does note that the number and array of rich media formats are quite diverse.
Most significantly, the study builds on DoubleClick's contention that the real impact of rich media has less to do with immediate click-throughs and response rates as it does with so-called "latent" effects. DoubleClick has been suggesting that, like many off-line forms of advertising, rich media has long-term branding, sales and action effects that extend well beyond the immediate impact of an advertising impression. The new report supports that, showing that a significant number of responses to rich media ads came within 30 days of viewing it, even if the user never actually clicked on it.
If that finding holds up, it would be a good thing for rich media in particular and online advertising overall, as click-through rates continue to fall. Rich media click-through rates dropped to 1.57 percent in the third quarter of 2003, down from 1.87 percent in the second quarter of 2003 and from 2.47% in the third quarter of 2002.
DoubleClick has contended that the decline reflects a maturation of the medium and that the real measure of rich media impact is not in its immediacy but in its latent effects.
That message must be getting through to online marketers, because their use of the medium continues to soar. DoubleClick served 173 billion ads during the third quarter of 2003, up 19% from the third quarter of 2002, and the level since 2001.