By Carly Harris (Digital Account Manager – Media)
It’s been 25 years since the first digital banner ad – the moment the internet changed forever. The vast majority of today’s tech simply didn’t exist in 1994: low bandwidth, no analytics, and targeting was still a pipeline dream. The ad units available were limited, but the internet was simpler, and an ad served was very likely an ad viewed. As internet historian Brian McCullough remembers, there weren’t best practices or even a “playbook” – you just had to wing it.
Fast-forward to the present, where display advertising accounted for $36.6 million of advertising revenue in Q1 2019, with the humble banner no longer the only creative option. Video, audio, native advertising and sponsorships all now play in this space. Our consumption habits are driving new advertising formats, which has in turn enabled brands to be (almost) everywhere their audience is.
However, with all of this change, one thing has still stayed the same: measurement. Click through rates are still the primary form of measurement for banner ads, with benchmarks varying by creative size and industry. Given we see hundreds of ads per day between our desktops, mobile phones and tablets, we’re competing more aggressively than ever to be seen by consumers. So how can we stay relevant to our audience, and ensure we drive clicks and conversions?
One of the best ways to achieve this is by considering device in the creative development stage. Take a news article, for example. A user reading on their phone is likely to spend less time with the ad unit in view, versus reading the article on a desktop where the ad unit is visible for much longer. Time is of the essence when communicating your message to a consumer – and on mobile, you have even less time to convince users to take action.
Mobile banners should communicate their call to action very early – in the first or second frame if animated. This prompts consumers to act straight away, and allows you to be relevant in the moment your ad is seen. If the action or vital messaging is in the final frame, it may only appear once the user has scrolled past.
Desktop and tablet banners are in the view of the consumer for longer, meaning they have more of an opportunity to tell a story. On these devices, banners have more time to promote functionalities, benefits and then include a call to action – they offer an opportunity to share more information, and give the user more time to read it.
While click-through rate is still the primary form of measurement, viewability is quickly becoming a common metric to measure digital success. IAS are one of the leading companies executing viewability measurement and ask an important question, “If an ad is served but no one views it, does it have an impact?” To put this into perspective, it is estimated that more than 37% of served impressions go unseen by users.
To ensure your advertising spend is being maximized, adding viewability measurement will ensure your messaging is being displayed in placements worth your investment, most likely to be seen. These measures can also provide a defense against ad fraud, meaning your campaign is seen by real people and not just ‘bots’. As the market evolves and matures, viewability is becoming an increasingly standardized metric for measuring campaign effectiveness and success.
All digital banners, regardless of device, have a place in the media mix. Our role is to ensure we’re providing the right level on information to consumers, which reflect the digital environment and device they’re displayed on, while also overlaying relevant targeting and ensuring high viewability standards. Though this format have only just hit a quarter-century, banners drive consumers to find out more – and are a vital inclusion in an omni-channel approach.