These Alternative Ads Might Save Display Advertising

Ophir Tanz

The death of the banner ad may not be imminent, but the rise of programmatic buying and demand for viewability have forever changed the economics of display advertising. As a result, banner inventory is being valued and sold in fundamentally different ways, forcing a new wave of creative innovation.

Working closely with the Internet’s leading brand advertisers, we hear first-hand how they think about scale, creativity, whether their message will be heard and if it will resonate with consumers. The need to create more engaging display advertising is not a new issue, but it has become a more critical one of late.

The good news is, a new generation of premium ad units is emerging that engages users because they are both relevant and visually appealing. Here are some of the most compelling alternatives to standard banner ads, each having already been proven to increase engagement and drive lift in brand metrics at scale.

Rising Stars
It was a long wait for the IAB to advocate for new ad unit standards, but now, two years following their introduction, the IAB’s Rising Stars¬†are gaining traction among both publishers and advertisers who share the common goal of attracting more brand dollars to digital. With names like Billboard, Filmstrip, Portrait, Pushdown, Sidekick and Slider, these six larger-format, rich media units offer compelling new ways for brands to engage consumers across the publishers who accept them.

Engagement Ads
During her ad:tech keynote in April of this year, Google’s SVP of Advertising Susan Wojcicki predicted a future where online ads are governed by choice and views are voluntary on the basis of providing consumers with value, control and more beautiful creative. Google’s new Engagement Ads connect with users through multiple creative formats that expand after a two-second hover delay. In addition to Lightbox Ads that can contain rich media, video and YouTube Mastheads, Engagement Ads achieve similar functionality at scale by fitting into standard IAB units.

In-image Advertising
Photos are the last piece of organic content to be monetized, yet they are the first place users’ look as they scan a web page. GumGum invented a way to deliver beautifully animated, video-capable and contextually relevant ads based on the meaning of images, with the ability to deploy campaigns on a large scale. There is enough interest in the emerging format that the IAB recently formed an Image-based Advertising Task Force to further explore their potential.

Native Advertising
Whatever your definition, or your opinion, of “native advertising,” it can’t be overlooked in a conversation about alternative ad units. The reason native has become part of the industry lexicon is because it works. The ability to present a marketer’s message in-line with how viewers would otherwise encounter the information around it will get noticed. Whether it’s labelled as sponsored content or simply ads shown within relevant content, marketers will win with consumers long after the “native” buzzword fades away.

It’s in the best interest of all digital advertising stakeholders to embrace the tools available — and to create new ones — to attract more brand dollars to digital. But this is only the beginning. What conversations do we need to have, and what buttons do we need to push to break out of a legacy banner mentality and keep driving display innovation forward?

As various groups debate effectiveness, viewability and consumer privacy, one thing is clear: consumers will continue to have an increasing amount of control over the advertising presented to them, resulting in a more positive user experience and higher engagement. Simply put, now is the time for new, more compelling and intelligent display advertising that gives both brands and consumers more of what they want.

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