Digital Advertising in Need of Innovation

An Outdated Model

When you think about it, given the speed of growth in the digital and in social media worlds, advertising really hasn’t kept pace. For the most part, many media sites continue to offer only standard ad units for displaying content. It’s a model that is badly in need of innovation.

Digital consumers today are bombarded with information. So much so that they are becoming more and more adept at ignoring old-hat advertising practices. Let’s face it, there’s only much so attention to go around. When consumers are online, they are usually seeking very specific content in the shortest amount of time. Brand advertising stands little chance of gaining far-reaching and meaningful attention in the decades-old format used now.

The Need for Change

The conundrum for brands is that there aren’t many new options out there. More and more people are spending more time online, yet they are usually seeking helpful content, not ads. Attempts to get attention, the first step needed in order to deliver a message, often go ignored. What’s worse is that attempts to interrupt, prevent or delay them from getting the information they want can annoy the consumer. I know I always very much enjoy the experience of a large display ad appearing after I expected to receive the content I clicked. Not so much.

Death of the Page View

Yet, brands have been content with page views as advertising metric. An article on Ad Age by Erik Farkas of appsavvy lays out a nice explanation of the shortcomings of page views. Here’s part of what he wrote:

“Historically the way to drive more ad dollars has been to increase page views, but this practice has invariably made ads less valuable. This style of page-view advertising is becoming a business model of the past. You’ve probably read the countless stats showing that a majority of display ads are being ignored by consumers, including: “31 percent of ad impressions were never in view of the consumer,” “43 percent of consumers ignore internet banner ads,” and “88 percent of ads in apps are ignored by users.” For the love of advertising, there’s a different study released every week that devalues online advertising and gives our industry a bad name.”

Matters of Importance

There are plenty of tricks media can play to increase the number of page views reported to advertisers. The number of times a page was viewed tells little. Of more importance are issues such as:

  • Was the ad seen and interacted with?
  • Did the ad impact brand perception?
  • Did the ad drive action?

Media need to be more innovative in the ways they deliver and measure advertising effectiveness. Brands need to assist in that process by encouraging the development of new advertising models and demanding the delivery of greater return on investment.

Leading Examples of Change

Social media currently is leading in new methods for online advertising. Twitter’s “Promoted Tweet” program and Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” offer an advertising experience that features better integration with the surrounding platform, better user experience, less intrusion and solid targeting.

In fact, Facebook will soon take another positive step by introducing its new and upgraded Premium Ads. The new ad platform will include several features that will be much more appealing to brands, including:

More visually pleasing format

A more inviting content focus vs. brand messaging

More opportunities for consumer engagement

Clearer endorsements by friends

Greater opportunity to increase the number of brand page fans and overall engagement

The new ads should be very well received by advertisers and are a good example of what other sites need to begin to offer.

As it stands, being present online as a brand is better than not being there at all. Much more development of digital advertising models is needed however to offer brands the value they deserve.

What do you think?

Author: Steve Sonn

Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.

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