It’s a conundrum that our industry has been pondering for what seems like ages: How can we attract brand dollars away from TV and onto the Web? For the past few years, it’s all we’ve talked about. Internet-based advertising across the desktop and mobile channels can deliver the scale of television to brand advertisers, along with better targeting and superior analytics. But for brands the online world remains a testing ground only, and it’s still riddled with concerns: viewability, attribution, fraud.
We’re all aware that the Web could be an ideal place for brands. As an industry, we have already taken steps to improve the environment with new standards, new ad verification technologies and improved ad units.
It’s not enough, though. The banners and buttons that make up the inventory of most ad exchanges aren’t the best medium for branding -- branding is most successful with rich media online. To attract and retain brand dollars and to elevate the industry, we need the ability to deliver rich media ads to high-quality environments in a scalable way -- and in real-time. This means we will need exchanges that can support rich media advertising. That’s no small feat, but I believe it can be done. However, it takes a village: We’ll have to work together to make our online world as brand-friendly as it can be. The agencies, the exchanges, the industry organizations and technology companies across the LUMAscape all need to come together, hold hands, and make it so.
RTB as “Race to the Bottom” has to end, here and now. The answer for premium advertising is Real Time Branding, which needs to begin.
Exchanges Must Support New, Brand-Friendly Formats
The solution relies heavily on the IAB’s Rising Star ad units. These stunning rich media ads deliver the visual impact and engagement that brands demand online. They’re big and beautiful, highly customizable, and invite consumer interaction with opportunities to incorporate video, social media elements, relevant publisher content -- even e-commerce modules. They are built for brand advertising. And since the Rising Stars are standard units, the exchanges must adapt to support them.
The problem is that exchanges, like so much of our industry, were built for easier-to-trade commodities like banners and buttons. These ad units just aren’t effective anymore -- banner blindness has effectively killed them, as evidenced by today’s dismally low click-throughs. The Rising Stars, along with other rich media ad units, are delivering dramatically higher engagement rates. If we really want to lure brands online, these are the kinds of ads we need to be able to support at scale.
The exchanges won’t be able to do it alone, however. The ecosystem will have to come together to support this adjustment from every angle. Fortunately, the IAB is already on board -- they have accepted the Rising Stars as a standard. On the delivery side, there are companies in the marketplace including Flite, AdGent, OnSwipe, and JiVox are able to technically fly this type of creative. Measurement companies like MOAT, Nielsen and comScore are able to deliver key metrics for the Rising Stars. Vertical and horizontal experts like AOL, Federated Media, Martini Media and others are able to add value and sell the inventory on high-quality, brand-friendly publisher sites. And agencies that work with brands are able to engage and procure creative and content.
A Happy Ending: Real-Time BRANDING as the New “RTB”
By joining together in constructive partnerships, we can help the industry quickly evolve and become more attractive to brand marketers. We have all the elements: Beautiful ad units, premium publisher environments, and the technology to sell the media at scale and real-time. If representatives from all sides can roll up their sleeves and work together, we can put all the pieces together to facilitate effective brand advertising at scale.
It takes a village -- and if we all work together, we can bring brand advertising online and help it thrive.