Tips for Evaluating New Rich Media Formats

Ad format is one of the top factors in determining response to an ad campaign. Some messages delivered via new ad formats are producing response rates more than 10 times higher than the same message in an animated GIF format. Much of this increased response can be attributed to the “wow factor” that often accompanies rich media. However, since many new rich media formats allow for enhanced interactivity within the advertising space, some of this lift can be attributed to a better user experience.

So, how do we take advantage of the krillions of new ad formats that have debuted recently? The first step is to evaluate them from a technical perspective. For some strange reason, ad technology vendors tend to contact the media department at an agency first, before contacting any of the tech folks. If you don’t consider yourself a propeller head, set up a meeting, but don’t forget to invite the programmers. They can tell you if something in a capabilities presentation sounds fishy from a tech perspective.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating a new ad format. Always remember that this format will carry your client’s message to prospects. Browser crashes and unreasonable load times can wreck the experience of your client’s message and worse yet, wreck a potentially profitable customer relationship. Before committing to an ad format, ask yourself the following questions

  • How will this format enhance my client’s message? It doesn’t make much sense to use a new format for its own sake, especially when the message can be conveyed equally well by a more stable, less complex technology. Does the new format allow for increased interactivity or a more detailed message? If you’re going to use it, it should.

  • Will it work with all potential users? Always ask whether the new format is compatible with all browsers, connection speeds and operating systems. If not, can an alternate ad be served in its place?
  • Do media properties accept the technology? Site acceptance can be a tremendous problem with some formats. There’s no need to create a rich media ad if it can be served by only one site on your media buy.
  • Are there any additional costs associated with serving this ad? Some formats, such as Unicast, Enliven and RealAudio, will require an additional cost for adserving. Don’t forget to account for this in your budget.
  • Have there been negative user reactions to this ad format? Pop-ups and ads with non-user initiated sound have generated a significant number of complaints in the past. Did tests with the new ad format yield a significant number of complaints?
  • Does the new format allow for enhanced trackability? Some Java-based formats allow agencies to track things like time spent interacting with the ad, the number of frames shown to the user and other new metrics. Can the new format offer this? Can it be used to the agency’s advantage?
  • Is the technology stable? Does it crash browsers?
  • What are the development costs? Can the agency use its creative and programming departments, or does the new format require work outside the agency? Can the additional costs be funded under the current budget?

Always be sure to do your homework with new rich media formats. Another helpful hint is to ask for some case studies in which other advertisers have had success with the format. If there aren’t any successful case studies that might be indicative of something

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