Sizing Up Online Brand Impact

Does size really matter when it comes to online brand impact? Is one ad size better at delivering branding metrics?

With the plethora of available online sizes (even accounting for standardization), I wonder if we can’t cut to the chase and use just two or three key ad sizes. It would simplify media planning and reduce production expenses. An analysis of a recent comprehensive industry study from Dynamic Logic may shed some light.

Measuring Up

At the November meeting of the Dallas-Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA), Joe Zahilta, VP of sales at the branding research company, spoke on “Branding and Cost Effectiveness of Rich Media Advertising.”

You’re probably familiar with Dynamic Logic’s focus on qualitative measurements and its rather hearty normative database of over 800 measured campaigns across a multitude of product and service categories. Its key measures include:

  • Brand awareness. Measures the level of familiarity respondents have with the brand (aided and unaided)

  • Message association. Measures the extent to which respondents can match the copy, messages, and/or concepts in the creative to the brand
  • Brand favorability. Measures the extent to which respondents have a positive or favorable opinion of the brand and its relevant topics
  • Purchase intent. Measures the likelihood of respondents to consider purchasing the product/service

The study’s focus was to compare the effectiveness of rich and non-rich ad executions using the central question, “Does a more expensive ad unit lead to more branding effectiveness?”

To implement a fair comparison, Dynamic Logic analyzed each format and technology using a frequency of one and a benchmark from the MarketNorms database of results (shown here with the light blue bars as the control group and the dark blue bars as the exposed group).

ClickZ Graphic

Six different standard sizes were compared: large rectangle, rectangle, skyscraper, leaderboard, banner, and button.

Top Performers

Take a look at the full study. In the meantime, here are some interesting top-line results:

  • For brand awareness, the large rectangle was 45 percent better than average, followed by the leaderboard at more than 13 percent. The skyscraper was 7 percent below average, while the banner, button, and rectangle all fell well below average.

  • For message association, the rectangle (62 percent better) and large rectangle (25 percent better) were tops.
  • For brand favorability, the rectangle (more than 124 percent), large rectangle (more than 40 percent), and skyscraper (more than 31 percent) delivered the goods.
  • For best overall performance, the large rectangle (more than 35 percent) and rectangle (more than 29 percent) delivered increased brand impact.

The study also measured cost effectiveness. The large rectangle and leaderboard were best at delivering a return on investment (ROI) for branding goals using standard rate card pricing.

Rich media executions were compared to non-rich; both were found to be effective, though two of the top performers were rich media formats. The researchers didn’t reveal format names, but I’m guessing they’re PointRoll and Eyeblaster.

Where Does This Lead Us?

You can’t overlook creativity’s subjective nature and that a really good concept will usually win over most of the rather average online creative — no matter the size.

But if we take into account the averaging effect inherent in the Dynamic Logic study, we could argue that across the range of measurements, the large rectangle and rectangle are pretty strong performers. Still, the study only reflects the impact of a single exposure. Don’t bet the farm on a single ad size, since some media buys limit the available type of placements.

Overall, we’re beginning to see a couple of good choices to standardize around. Why are rectangles working so well? Perhaps because the shape integrates well with content. Size flexibility also enables the creative to deliver a “dimensionally balanced” message (if you design ads, you’ll hopefully follow me on that one).

Given this learning, would you move in the same direction? Or do you think I’m just a “square”?

Here’s your chance to sound off on size.

Related reading