The IAB recently announced new digital display ad units (they diligently avoid calling them “banners”). The Rising Stars Display Ad Units are more than simply a bunch of new sizes; they represent a new paradigm in display ads that allow brands to create a complex brand experience for the consumer without requiring them to live the page they are viewing. While the six new formats differ from each other in ways that make them more appropriate for use by certain brands, messaging, or publications, they all provide a larger canvas and much greater opportunity for multimedia and interactive executions.
Are they awesome? Well, yeah. These new formats open up a world of creative possibilities. The depth of content and experience they provide makes me salivate. Some of the implementations I see are really brilliant.
Will they succeed? Dunno. They will clearly be more expensive from a media buy and production perspective. We already established in my previous post that “banners” suffer from the problem of getting clients to invest enough in their production. And how will the consumers respond? If, and this is a big if, we can fill these new units with great content, they may actually give users a reason to enjoy ads again. Wouldn’t it be great if these “rising stars” got the star treatment currently bestowed on Super Bowl ads? It could happen. But it might not. It will take brands with an understanding that this is a fantastic new form of paid media and agencies that are courageous enough to push for their (proper) use.
It’s all about sharing.
People share everything… videos, articles, photos… why not ads? Actually, they already do via Pinterest and YouTube, but imagine if users could share banners right from the page they live on? There’s precedent (sort of).
The brilliant Axion Banner Concerts campaign gave users the ability to embed the ads on fan’s pages… something that added over 43,000 impressions to the nearly 7 million impressions gotten through paid media. Now imagine if anyone could have shared that content from anywhere they saw it… that’s real amplification.
Of course, there are all kinds of issues to work out with this model, but it does open up a lot of interesting possibilities. What if sharing the ad actually drove people back to the hosting page, thereby raising that pages views. Now the publishers win as well and we have the beginnings of an entirely new brand/publisher partnership model. And if we approach banners in the same we approach other sharable media, we will clearly pay more attention to the creative and content.
Or do we chuck the whole idea?
Is the basic idea of digital display media broken? Maybe banners underperform because as a format they are fundamentally flawed, unable to work as traditional display media and too expensive to produce as fully interactive media. If that’s the case (and I’m not convinced it is), what do we do about it. Tim suggested we do nothing and just let them die. The other panelists took exception with that as it essentially dooms the publishers, and none of us wanted to strip the content from the internet. But what we all did agree with was that just because we have been doing something one way, there is no reason to continue to do it that way. Industries have been devastated by choosing to ignore or fight against the fast changes that happen in the digital landscape. So maybe banners will continue to change, but the idea of digital display advertising will (and should) continue to be an integral part to the web experience.
Coming up in Part 3: What to do today to improve your banners.