Effective Advertising: A Path Forward

A few months ago I mentioned in my ClickZ article that the next generation of advertising will take place in three ways: on-page, in real-time, and without cookies. For this column, I’d like to focus specifically around how on-page technical advances will create breakthrough advertising opportunities for both advertisers and publishers – truly better advertising.

The Solution Is (Part of) the Problem

When you take a step back, the current display advertising solutions have enabled great direct and programmatic scale and billions of dollars to flow into the digital marketplace over the last 15 years. Unfortunately, they are also a big part of the problems many brands have today. Two of these problems are ad viewability and learned ad avoidance.

Ad viewability has always been a challenge for advertisers. The question “did people actually see my ad?” whether it was outdoors, on television, or on a tablet, is timeless. While there are research companies that can more or less effectively estimate the number of people who drove by a billboard or tuned into a television show, they still cannot determine if those TV viewers were actively engaged or even in the room when the ad ran. For the past decade, digital advertisers have experienced a similar scenario with ad delivery happening “below the fold” or ads served on the page, but never actually seen. Many times these unseen ads are below where a user scrolls but they get priced at a CPM with the same attribution as ads above the fold. Today, ad technology companies like Integral Ad Science can enable advertising to appear in quality environments, driving increased ad viewability for advertisers. As advertisers’ focus on in-view ads, non-viewable ads will lower in value and likely be phased out over time by most publishers.

The other challenge we’ve been facing for more than 15 years is that more than 90 percent of display impressions (non-Facebook) are currently delivered in the ad gutter, the top and right side of the page. The result? A whole generation has been trained to avoid ad gutter advertising, and no amount of artificial intelligence can counteract this apathy. In 2013, comScore reported that more than 5.3 trillion ads were served, but when conducting a viewability benchmark, 54 percent of display ads were not seen.

With an increase in programmatic ad delivery, viewers are seeing more unrelated advertisements, deepening a viewer’s disregard and avoidance to the ad gutter. As an industry, we clearly need to do things differently and it starts with the page itself.

No More Dumb Pages

Today, publishers have amazing capabilities to leverage their content and inbound intent signals to present “conditional” ads that connect advertisers with users during discovery moments. With innovative page technology, publishers can integrate ads onto their pages that are aligned with their content and delivered in formats that correspond to the places on the page where readers are looking and spending time. By aligning intelligent pages with the timing of when ads are served, publishers can dramatically increase click-through rates, engagement, and viewability. At 33Across, publishers who deployed our Intent Signal platform delivered Intent Impact Units that were 100 percent in-view and increased average CTRs by eight times and engagement by five times over other ads. A year after Facebook launched their News Feed ads, their average effective price per ad increased by 92 percent over the previous years. Part of Facebook’s success is actually integrating the ad more into the user experience in ways that are in-stream/in-view by design. Expect more publishers to follow suit and deploy solutions that are in-view, and leverage real-time intent to deliver ads only when there is signal and, in turn, increase impact and reduce user apathy.

With all of the industry innovation we’ve seen over the past 15 years, it won’t be long before our industry overcomes the existing challenges around ad viewability and ad avoidance or burnout. Once publishers solve these hurdles to make intelligent pages, both advertisers and publishers will see a more effective evolution of digital advertising for, at least, the next generation of Internet users.

Image via Shutterstock.

Related reading

Vector graphic of a megaphone spewing out business themed items, such as a laptop, tablet, pen, @ symbol and smartphone