Ad A.D.D.: Why The Days Of Digital Ads As We Know Them Are Numbered

These days, when a brand announces their decision to target Millennials or teens, upping digital ad spending is usually a big part of their plan. But when we ask young consumers which type of advertising they usually ignore or avoid, 62% say online ads, like banner and video ads, and 68% say mobile in-app ads. In other words, online marketing—you’re doing it wrong. It’s not enough to be where they are. You have to be where they are, and match your message to their behavior.

As more brands and platforms clue in to that fact, we’re seeing an evolution of digital marketing as pre-rolls and banner ads are progressing to appeal to young consumers’ mindsets. Take note: if you aren’t doing these things yet, you should start, or risk having all that digital ad spending be wasted.

Considering young consumers’ legendarily short attention spans, the tone and content of digital ads that target teens and young adults need to evolve. As Adweek notes, viewership rates on pre-roll ads are not generally high, in part because many marketers just run traditional TV ads on digital, instead of tailoring the content to the platform. Clearly, brands should be creating content that fits in with the viewing behavior, and Geico’s new “Unskippable” pre-roll campaign is a nod to how young viewers generally approach ads on online video.

These spots acknowledge that they skip over online commercials as soon as they are able with a voiceover saying right away, “You can’t skip this Geico ad, because it’s already over.” The characters in the commercials then freeze, but those who stick around are rewarded as the action on screen continues in unexpected ways. Young viewers are given a reason to watch far beyond the time their finger usually hits the “skip” button.

Outside of creative approaches, the length of pre-roll might just need to be chopped—considerably. Young consumers are now used to stories being told in just a few seconds time (thanks, Vine!) so brands need to learn to fit the message within their attention span limits. New video platform and YouTube competitor Vessel has shortened the pre-roll length to be quicker than anywhere else, mostly five seconds, because they “don’t want it to be a tax, that doesn’t help the marketer or the consumer.” This approach could be majorly appealing to young consumers who tune out or skip over any commercial that they can.

Static banner ads are also on the chopping block. In 2013 when we wrote about the rise of the GIF in online communication, we talked about the potential impact of the medium, saying, “For young consumers this could be a rising expectation. Flat images could become boring, networks like Instagram might have to add moving image features, and advertisements that don’t hypnotize with subtle motion may be ignored.”
Vessel is one of the online platforms making this prediction come true.

The site/app has no banners, and no skyscrapers, because as founder Jason Kilar says, they “don’t want advertising to be unloved anymore.” Instead, while scrolling through the platform, brand “motion posters” are scattered throughout feeds. Potato chips fall hypnotically into a Lay’s bag, or a Jaguar rotates enticingly—nothing is static, and everything invites users to pause and watch, if only for a second. Any add can be scrolled past at will, no mandatory interaction or viewing time included. The method, according to Vessel’s testing, leads to high recall and high favorability. 

With these platforms and brands at work, it won't be long before young consumers view any ad that isn't lightning quick and/or moving (literally and emotionally) as antiquated and not worth their attention. From our research they are already working to ignore digital marketing efforts as they exist. Adjust to their ad A.D.D. or risk being left behind.

2 comments about "Ad A.D.D.: Why The Days Of Digital Ads As We Know Them Are Numbered".
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  1. Andrew Hunt from Addroid, April 13, 2015 at 1:16 p.m.

    This is spot on - flat images and cartoony animations are so 1990!  We see the best campaign outcomes from our platform when 7-10 second videos are used for in-banner video across browser types, particularly on mobile where Milennials live.

  2. Mike Greco from Indy App Systems, April 16, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.

    You're right about static banners. Thank God they're on the chopping block. They've been the bane of mobile advertising's existence for years and being phased out by superior refreshes of the banner, like Abstract Banners from Airpush and other cutting-edge formats wer'e seeing by ad tech pioneers and even a good number of social networks.

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