Rich Media Growth Trend Continues

The growth of rich media is unstoppable and big bold ad units are really taking off, according to the Q3 2003 ad serving trend report from DoubleClick. Meanwhile, plain vanilla units like banners continue their decline into nowheresville.

The New York-based ad technology company said its report data represents one of the largest pools of information from both publishers and advertisers on ads served during the period. The data is based on nearly 1.1 trillion ads served by DoubleClick for clients globally since Q1 of 2002.

The growth of rich media – defined by DoubleClick as dynamic ads that move across Web pages, pop-ups and ads that include Macromedia Flash technology – is speeding up quarter by quarter, particularly in North America. Its use increased from 17.3 percent of all ads served in Q1 of 2002 to nearly 37 percent last quarter. And, while its use had been increasing a steady 10 percent per quarter, last quarter it increased 15 percent from the previous quarter.


Percentage of Rich Media as
Total Ad Impressions Served
Q1 2002 17.3%
Q2 2002 19.3%
Q3 2002 23.2%
Q4 2002 24.9%
Q1 2003 27.8%
Q2 2003 31.7%
Q3 2003 36.6%
Source: DoubleClick

DoubleClick said larger ad units may eventually eclipse traditional ad sizes. While clickthrough rates continued to decline quarter by quarter for both rich media and standard Internet ads, rich media clickthrough rates were more than five times higher than those for standard ads, getting an average clickthrough rate of 5.41 percent, as opposed to the average click-through rate of 1.57 percent for non-rich media ads.

Standard banners (468 x 60 pixels) still account for the largest portion of all ads served at 58 percent, but declined in volume by 4 percent since this time last year. Buttons (88 x 31 pixels) lost ground over the past year along with the 120 x 90 pixel format. Skyscrapers, on the other hand, which were one of the fastest growing ad sizes, have started to taper off as a percent of all ads served, from 9 percent of total volume in the third quarter of 2002 to 6.3 percent last quarter. The square (250 x 250 pixels), most often used pop-ups or pop-unders, was used 33 percent less than a year ago, although it boasted the highest clickthrough rate this quarter, at 0.87 percent. Leaderboards, a 728 x 90 pixel-wide unit, became the third most common size, accounting for 8.8 percent of total ads served.

When it comes to targeting, contextual – by keyword or keyvalue in DoubleClick’s system – still beats technological methods such as by browser type, ISP, domain or operating system, accounting for 62 percent of all ads served. Geo-targeting accounted for 4 percent of all publisher inventory.

For the first time, the DoubleClick report broke out ads served to international regions. Numbers for the Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific regions mirrored the global numbers, with some exceptions. Rich media was a lower percentage of all ads served, while click-through rates were higher, at an average of 0.96 percent, up 45 percent from the beginning of 2002. DoubleClick said it expects those rates to fall, then stabilize, just as they did in the U.S.

The average clickthrough rates for all ads served rose to their highest number since the first quarter of 2002, at 0.76 percent, an increase of 24 percent from the pathetic click-through rates last quarter. However, the report noted they’ve been stable in the range of 0.61 to 0.76 percent in the past year.

Doug Knopper, vice president and general manager, online advertising Solutions, said in a statement accompanying the report, “Obviously, each marketer’s objective needs to be weighed individually, but we’re encouraged that the medium continues to show ROI [return on investment] in more ways than one.”

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