Let's get creative for a minute. I think it’s safe to say the banner is not the end product of display-based Web advertising -- but what will be? What will Web advertising evolve to become?
As an industry, we’ve been complaining about banners for 18 years -- pretty much since they first launched. Unfortunately, we still haven’t come up with a better alternative, so maybe this is as good as it gets?
If we look at the high-level statistics, online display ads are not performing well, but when you peel back the onion and specifically extract the data regarding long-tail, CPC- or CPA-based media buying and the ads associated with those campaigns, the numbers really aren’t that bad. On premium websites, you can get high recall numbers, high interaction rates and high engagement rates. When you apply some creativity to the solution, you get high levels of response!
Of course, we as an industry still want to compare ourselves to TV.
TV is a different medium and needs to be held to its own unique set of metrics. The screen is larger, the audience is more focused and is passive. The Internet audience interacts more, on a smaller screen. They are assertive, so you cannot easily dissuade them from their intended purpose, but you can certainly tap into that assertiveness with a message that maintains relevance. TV also has one dominant placement for messaging, while the Web is an open environment where publishers can do anything they want on their site.
What started this discussion: I feel as though my Web experience is starting to deteriorate, as more companies are experimenting with more invasive, and in many cases more annoying, new ad opportunities. I’ve been witness lately to pop-unders and sliders making a resurgence. Sliders specifically become annoying as they slow the load times for the pages where they’re located and have a serious effect on my user experience. Pop-unders are something I can live with in limited frequency, but they seem to be happening more often as of late!
I’ve always been a fan of innovation, but honestly, I don’t foresee a new ad model taking hold unless the Web undergoes a full-scale redesign of the way it delivers content. Fifteen years ago I predicted the Web would become a more dynamic, video-based environment, but I’ve since retracted that prediction. Video will continue to be integrated, but it’s not the right delivery mechanism for the majority of content. People like pictures and they like reading. The Web is a text- and image-based medium, with video sprinkled throughout. It’s not the inverse, with video leading the way -- specially as the Web gets accessed more from mobile devices and the merits of flash vs. html5 continue to be debated. On a small mobile screen, text and images load faster and provide more content in a more digestible fashion.
App-based companies like Flipboard, News 360 and ShowYou (though video-focused) are finding news ways to deliver content in an engaging manner, and they offer a glimpse into what a redesigned Web could look like. With these new ideas come opportunities for new ad placements, but they'd have to arrive in tandem with new standards adopted by the industry. These days the single largest challenge facing the development of a new ad model lies in getting advertisers to develop for it. Almost every advertiser builds 160x600, 728x90 and 300x250, and that’s it -- because they’re the most widely accepted formats and optimization requires reach and frequency.
Soooo… it sounds like we’re stuck with these standard display units for a number of years to come. It’s time to get creative. Take it as a challenge -- how can you, as a marketer, do more with the same, or less, than your competition? How can you create synergy between your display and your other ad formats across channel? If you can answer those questions, then your ads can become even more effective.
How are you driving creativity?