Advertisers Getting Pushy With New Pushdown Units

Since the Online Publishers Association (OPA) proposed its collection of more prominent ad units earlier this year, we’ve all been watching and waiting to see what advertisers will do with them. Just as the OPA intended, the larger units — which include the Pushdown, Fixed Panel, and XXL Box — afford advertisers the ability to get more creative with their messaging and design.

We’ve already seen all three units in action, particularly the Pushdown, which has been quick to gain traction among digital marketers. Now that it’s actively being employed, one has to wonder: are the advertisers who are using it effectively fulfilling the OPA’s prophecy? Is their creative pushing the envelope, or is it falling short of the mark?

Let’s take a look at some of the most recent applications of the OPA Pushdown unit. As we do, we’ll consider several criteria for success: interactivity (are the advertisers leveraging the added space they have to deliver a more engaging ad?), brand impact (does the additional space help them send a stronger brand message?), and content (is it of value to the consumer, and from a media buying perspective, does it fit within the parameters of the site on which it appears?).

Interactive Without Cause

First up is an ad that’s currently running on FoodNetwork.com — and not a minute too soon for the holiday party season. KahlÚa brand liqueur has laid claim to the site’s home page with a Pushdown unit that invites users to “Solve the KahlÚa Flavor Puzzle.” When users click to open the ad, they are presented with the “puzzle” — a series of squares, each depicting a portion of an image that, when the squares are placed in the correct order, reveal the product. Seems like a fun concept, especially on a site where consumers have these types of products top of mind.

Unfortunately, the concept falls flat. While the colorful design is consistent with the familiar KahlÚa brand palette to deliver brand impact, the ad doesn’t offer much in the way of valuable content or interactivity. Users can try their hand at solving the puzzle, but the experience isn’t very gratifying and the message comes off as a little weak — surprising for a brand known for its flavorful spirits. Worse still, while the banner does include a call to action to visit the KahlÚa brand site for cocktail recipes, there is no such useful information present within the banner itself, something this food lover and marketer thinks is a major oversight from an advertiser buying space on a recipe portal.

On the whole, KahlÚa hasn’t made the best use of an ad unit that holds so much promise for expanded creativity. The novelty of a new unit like this one isn’t enough to capture the audience’s attention; the design and content have to deliver as well.

Room With a View Toward Incorporating Video

Compare the KahlÚa offering to another Pushdown unit that has been running on the home page of NYTimes.com. This ad, for Tiffany & Co., features video — already a better use of the expanded space. The content is seasonal, and while the messaging (“Give Voice to Your Heart”) is minimalist, it’s consistent with the Tiffany brand, as is the ad’s signature blue background.

The ad is lacking in interactivity, but that isn’t the point of this offering, and the user isn’t led to believe she’ll get it. Expect to see a lot of advertisers taking this approach to Pushdown advertising as they look for ways to increase the visibility of their best video assets.

Plenty of Space for Multiple Promotions

On iVillage, advertiser Boost Mobile is taking a different approach with its Pushdown ad: it’s using the expansive page space to deliver three messages relating to the holiday shopping season.

The banner serves three distinct purposes: it emphasizes the urgency of making a purchase by way of including a holiday shopping countdown clock, it promotes one of the company’s calling plans, and it provides product information on one of its mobile phone options. Despite the multiple messages, however, a sleek design ensures that the banner doesn’t appear cluttered or overwhelming to the user. This is one ad that delivers a strong brand message while also offering content that’s of value to a good many consumers as they plan their holiday buys.

Advertisers are getting pushy with new Pushdown units; we’re bound to see a lot more of them in the year to come. Sadly, they aren’t always remembering the purpose of the new formats and what they were intended to inspire in digital marketers. Before you employ your first such unit, consider whether you’re making the best use of all that it has to offer.

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