display landscape

The Future of Display Advertising

By Paul Morris
Display/ Banner advertising is not what it was. In a good way. Many people are now doing more than just using serving 468 X 60 gif’s on vaguely relevant sites and expecting great ROI and not having to pass of Display performance with the ‘brand awareness’ card.

Display advertising has a rosy future and here’s what I think will happen:

Format change – a move from bog standard formats like Skyscraper, MPU and leaderboards to being innovative with sizes like billboard, Wallpaper and Half Page. Newer formats are allowing for more storytelling and immersion (or simply disruption to banner blindness if you’re a sceptic).

More intelligent Targeting – Linked with the above; we need to stop annoying people / freaking some people out by serving them the same banner for weeks. E.g. Wiggle and Play.com funnel drop out retargeting product banners.

We need to stop over targeting and disrupting user behaviour and instead need to entertain and/or inform them. Whilst I believe the future will definitely hold disruption and OTT interstitial, pop up and floating DHTML banners I still say ad units can entertain. E.g. Several years ago Dulux did some great online versions of their colour range by creating an interplay between banner types on the same page (difficult to explain and just trust me on this one). Another company who were famous for good banner innovation years ago were Mini. If these companies could entertain 5 years ago then surely with the advent of improved technology + creative we can do better now…

And one of those ‘easy’ to employ innovations should be image ads. New image ads will be served up based on algorithms that determine what is in the image and whether the ad placement would impair or enhance the message. E.g. I’ve seen this done with new car launches where the car ad is employed next to the car review itself, competitor reviews or where target sector/ content relevance is excellent.

We need to remember that banner ads do work from a brand awareness perspective and from an indirect view through conversion perspective but that they also can get you direct 2-8 X ROI when done well.

To start with a key future goal will be to get CTR’s up (currently averaging 0.2% for standard banners and around 0.08% for social media banners) as this KPI shows greater interaction and serving banner ads at the right time to the right people is clearly key. If companies can crack the combination of DSP’s + remarketing + behavioural targeting + semantic targeting + time from click then we can = great Display ROI.

Social Media Targeting Improvements – Linked with the above CTR nut to crack; if key social media destinations like LinkedIn (B2B) and facebook (B2C) can utilise these technologies then the silly valuations that have been quoted for them will, in part, be justified. Facebook and LinkedIn have enough reach for the super niche audience targeting that is so effective.

LTV-O (Yes I just made that acronym up) – Life Time Value Optimisation and Cross Selling will become much better. Many big brands still do not eeeeek out as much value from their consumers as they should.

Brands understanding their consumers, knowing what to sell them and when, having great data analysts who can apply insight and then coupling this with advanced targeting technology and the brands plethora of useful services enables Display to move from basic retargeting and funnel drop out targeting to something a little more advanced.

Digital Marketers improve – Let’s not just blame the technology or consumer apathy for a lack of effective Display advertising. A key problem is often in our Brands with marketers who are not educated enough in the ways of Display or have agencies who are apathetic or not guiding them well enough with technological insight + great ideas to make use of the new Display landscape.

DSP’s continue to prosper – As I posted in a recent article dedicated to DSP’s I see demand side platforms and real time bidding continuing to flourish as long as they reward the advertising site fairly.

Despite there being many good DSP networks (see my article for recommendations) I see Google being key to the DSP future. Google will increasingly apply Search data insight and technology to the Display industry (see DSP, Invite Media, and creative optimisation company, Teracent, for proof of interest) and by greater integration with Search will drive awareness and engagement in an easy to use interface (see the Google Display Network). Think also of the power they exert and opportunity they hold via not only strategic purchases (also see Ad Mob for the Mobile DSP driver) and GDN but also via properties such as YouTube, Google images and News.

Immersion – Top and tailing this post is immersion. An immersive display experience will see larger, more interactive canvases that will provide engageee’s with great content in the one place. See my Google without websites article as a hint towards what I see for Display via HTML5.