Resurrecting Transitional Ads

Marketers like to differentiate between active and reactive ad exposures. Active exposures reach users in the midst of an action, while reactive exposures surround users in their Web experiences, as with banners. Though active exposures typically elicit high response rates, users sometimes perceive them as a disturbing interruption.

A prime example of active exposures is transitional ads, which are extremely successful in gaining user attention. I’ve noticed U.S. advertisers moving away from this marketing technique, however. Yet transitional ads are an untapped resource and can serve American advertisers well.

Transitional ads are initiated when users click on a link and are transferred to another page and an ad catches them in transition before they arrive at the next page. Today most executions use a simple ad unit and a skip button, but sometimes advertisers incorporate video or Flash to make the ads interactive. This format can capitalize on a captive, active audience and can effectively get marketing messages to users. To ensure success, publishers should create strong guidelines and frequency limitations to proactively counteract any user aggravation. That said, there’s a great marketing opportunity here that I’d like to explore.

Make the Transition

To decrease downloading delays, transitional video ads should be loaded while users are still on the previous page. Using this time to preload any type of rich media or video ad will create a seamless, instant exposure for your marketing message. Nothing is worse for a user than having to wait for an ad to load if the original intention was to reach a subsequent page. This also counts for the actual destination page. Advertisers would be wise to load the desired page while users are exposed to the transitional ad. If advertisers can eliminate unwanted delays, users will be potentially less annoyed by the transitional ad. Also, incorporating a timer to present a timeframe for when ads will disappear can be effective in dispelling user irritation.

Rely on Relevance

Search engine marketing principles show us that landing page content should be a contextual extension of the ad. The same goes for transitional ads. Otherwise, the ad in between pages will seem overtly abrupt, noticeable, and unwanted. Advertisers could also use this technique to present their message as a sponsorship of sorts. For example, an advertisement could incorporate the headline of upcoming pages, then “proudly present” it to users.

Once users reach their intended page, marketers should display an additional advertisement. This has proven effective for both building brand awareness and driving click-through conversions. The actual transitional video ad should lead into the ad on the linked page. This way, users are more likely to notice the ad on the next page.

Get Interactive

Users exposed to transitional ads are active; they’ve already clicked and picked your site to visit. Return the favor by incorporating interactive elements into the ad. Take advantage of their readiness by adding a survey or a game to make your ad pause worth the wait. The rich media format is particularly effective, especially when 10 to 15 seconds long.

Including a URL or contact information may sound a bit outdated. While users could just as easily link to an advertiser’s site, remember that browsers aren’t searching for you. Users might not click on transitional ads for fear of being diverted from their original destination, and by including pertinent contact information users can recall it later. The impression will be made.

Transitional ads have enormous potential to impact users. While some might believe this technique to be obsolete when compared to other platforms, it presents a unique opportunity. The trick is to be unexpected and not a nuisance. Transitional ads are still in heavy rotation in Europe. If the ads are relevant and used strategically, they can easily fit into today’s marketing mix.

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