Rich Media Research Roundup

If you’ve had your ear to the ground, you’re aware of a couple of interesting new studies on online advertising that may have you rethinking the way you plan and buy for your clients’ campaigns.

The Research

Last month DoubleClick released its “Creative Insights on Rich Media” report, which analyzes ad-serving data to produce an overview of the changing rich media landscape. The report provides practical, proven advice for producing better ads that result in improved click-through and interaction rates.

Among the recommendations: incorporating video into ad units. In-page video units were found to generate higher click-through and interaction rates than in-page non-video ads and expanding formats. Additionally, integrating a video component into expanding units was found to produce a higher interaction rate than non-video expanding units overall.

Employing larger creative sizes, such as a half-page ad rather than a banner or leaderboard, was also found to result in higher interaction rates. This mantra, however, can’t be applied across the board. Some units in particular outperformed others in expansion rates and video complete rates. Large rectangles took top honors in both categories, beating out their more robust competitors — half-page ads (which actually tied with skyscrapers for having the lowest video completion rates).

September also saw the release of new Dynamic Logic research on the increasing acceptance of over-content ads (including floating ads and pop-ups). Overall, consumers felt that two ads that block page content per hour is the appropriate amount. This perception is consistent with what Dynamic Logic’s previous studies had unearthed.

What has changed, however, is the percentage of Internet users who don’t consider any over-content ads acceptable. This number dropped from 32 percent in 2003 to 21 percent in 2008, indicating a growing tolerance of advertising in exchange for free Web content in general, according to the report.

The Takeaway

Much to our chagrin, no one ad unit is at once more effective than its associates, better accepted by consumers, and appropriate for all rich media campaigns. Rich advertising media encompass dozens of advertising options, each of which offers something unique for both marketer and consumer. Each unit, therefore, must be analyzed in isolation to determine its positive traits and campaign relevance. Assessing its role in relation to other formats being employed within a campaign remains important, but not at the expense of addressing its individual place within the ever-changing online landscape.

As consumers spend more time online, visiting more types of sites and experiencing a greater number of ad formats, they’re becoming more accustomed to the tricks we marketers keep up our sleeves. Engaging them is harder than ever; impressing them is darn near impossible. They may be more tolerant of some forms of online advertising, as the Dynamic Logic study suggests, but their expectations are also higher than they’ve ever been before.

This is particularly evident in the elevated click-through and interaction rates experienced by video advertisers and by the effectiveness of larger creative sizes. Consumers are looking for impact and responding favorably when they get it. For our part, this trend requires greater attention not just to site placement but also to the creative assets produced for our campaigns.

To find success with rich media advertising, our best approach is to keep close watch on how consumer perceptions and reactions ebb and flow. A campaign that was a phenomenal success last year might not fare well in today’s climate. Determining this requires a lot of research and analysis on our part, but such is the nature of our business. Getting better is as much a matter of attentiveness and flexibility as it is of pure experience.

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