It's Time To Get Creative

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?

2 comments about "It's Time To Get Creative".
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  1. Sean Tracey from Sean Tracey Associates, May 30, 2012 at 12:58 p.m.

    Hey Cory,
    Discovered a great article on this week about "10 Most Clickable Banner Ads" - Now THESE are creative:
    Sean Tracey

  2. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, May 30, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.

    Cory, The most overlooked online advertising method today is text link ads. I can get 50 to 100 as many click through / sweep entries as any banner of any size in any location. Period. I have worked with many of the Fortune 500's and showed them how a text link is worth $0.05 per entry or less compared to $1.00+ per click in Google Adsense banners.

    Why are text link not used more often? People in general have not taken the time to understand how they really work and how to use them. The first element is trust between the member of the website and the publisher. If the member really trust the website and understands what they are clicking onto, they are more likely to click onto a text link verses a banner.

    Few in your industry know that Sweepstakes Today gets more sweep entries than Facebook in the US market. (this is when we do publish and get paid by the sponsor for the Facebook sweep) This comes from 3 different major ad agencies who compared result with ST and Facebook. Facebook is close to understanding how text links work but still falls short.

    The true key to your question is understanding the consumer and what makes them confortable enough to click onto anything let alone a banner. Start with that question and find the answer.

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