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How To harness the power of display

How To harness the power of display

Growth in online display advertising has been slow, in comparison with search and classified advertising, for quite some time. As we now enter a period of recession after the protracted upturn, there are reports that online advertising spend as a whole, will plummet to an all-time low in 2009.

Never before has it been more important for marketers and advertisers to garner demonstrable ROI from their campaigns and many will be asking themselves what the most lucrative forms of online advertising are.

The truth is that online display advertising; just like traditional display advertising has always lacked a consumer-pull model and accurate means of measurement.

Display advertising was born as a way of generating awareness for a given brand, product or service and brands that invest in it are famous for claiming that they know that half of their advertising works, they just don’t know which half. The click-through rate (CPM) model employed in the online world also sheds little light.

Search campaigns, on the other hand, can be easily measured using a simple pay-per-click (PPC) model.

Couple this with the fact that search campaigns are based on a model of consumer-pull and the case for search over display is a compelling one.

Take for example a consumer searching Google for cinema times for Quantum of Solace. The user will get sponsored and organic search results relating to cinemas showing the film, film reviews, movie merchandise, other related films.

The problem with search campaigns, is that they only reach consumers that are actively looking for a specific result. If a consumer isn’t aware that Quantum of Solace is now playing in a cinema near them than the search campaign has no way of reaching them.

This is where the case for display advertising grows stronger once more. If display advertising incorporated a greater element of pull, like search advertising, then marketers would soon find it far easier to protect their diminishing advertising budgets.  

One way to introduce this consumer-pull model into online display efforts is to stop thinking about ad units and start thinking in terms of useful applications.

Over the past 10-15 years, the internet has developed into an application-rich environment but online advertising remains essentially the same: benign banners beg for our attention on a crowded page and are increasingly ignored.

However, if a banner, video or widget served anywhere on the web could give consumers direct access to useful information about your brand, and even the opportunity to purchase your products or services there and then, online advertising could then be transformed from a passive experience into a useful, relevant one, with which consumers engage.

Returning to the movies for a moment, imagine if that potential consumer was watching a trailer for Quantum of Solace; be it on or on, and could simply click on it to view real-time cinema listings and buy tickets for their local cinema.

What better way to measure the efficacy of your online display efforts, and relate them back to the bottom line, than to track ticket sales directly through individual units?

Warner Brothers recently trialled such a model on trailers for its ‘Gotham Knight’ animated movie and saw interaction rates of 12.2 per cent.

If you start to think about your online display campaign as a series of endless distributed e-commerce applications, or real tools for consumers to accomplish tasks at hand, then it becomes a ‘lean-in’ experience. In this way, online display advertising becomes a viable alternative, or addition, to a search campaign and an investment that can be fully justified to those holding the purse strings.

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