A New Wave of Online Ads

February 12th, 2016

How can personalization help you see more success with your digital advertising?

Personalization on the Internet is expected at this point. We are able to choose what people/sources we want to “follow” on social services. We can pick and choose what we want to subscribe to. Major network news sites can be filtered to your preference with yet another simple signup, or even by quickly connecting to your Facebook. This type of feature set is so inherit to online experience that it is now the rule over the exception.


For years we have each been crafting the version of the Internet we’re interested in seeing, and, for many of us, probably sequestering ourselves to it (aside from those fun links our friends share). We happily create our own walled gardens, and why wouldn’t we? Entitlement is a big thing on the Internet – see what you want to see and be heard on what you are passionate about. And we’ve been doing this long enough that we can spot a “traditional” ad from a mile away. A recent survey found four in five people actively ignore ads on Facebook. There are similar numbers on the app side of things, with 88 percent of people ignoring mobile ads and finding them annoying or intrusive.

Objectively looking at these numbers and then comparing “ignore rates” in other mediums (i.e., TV at 14 percent and radio at 7 percent), one might conclude it’s just not worth advertising on the Internet. People obviously don’t agree with that, as Internet advertising revenue is at an all-time high at $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2013 (that’s 15 percent higher than the previous quarter). So what’s going on here? Are we throwing away money? Depending on how you’re spending those dollars, and how you measure success, you may very well be. People probably aren’t going to be too interested in filling out a contact form after tapping an ad in their Pandora app, but they might be more inclined to do so coming in from either a paid or organic search on their desktop.

As advertisers, we have more than enough ways to target our demographics of interest on every system that will sell you ads. Finding the people we’re interested in is no longer the problem; it’s getting them to even notice we’re waving our arms at them! With more and more consumers able to “tune out” traditional online ads, we’re seeing interesting experimentation in the delivering of ads – blurring the lines between content
and advertisement. Facebook, for example, is integrating ads into your newsfeed that have nearly no layout difference than the content you opted into consuming. Buzzfeed has versions of articles that are “presented by” a brand of choice, and often these articles are subtly themed with the brand’s identity.

We’re in a time now where the one-size-fits-all landing page really shouldn’t be the only tool in your online marketing belt. As more and more popular sites move away from traditional banner advertising and create experiences unique to their systems, it’s essential we take the time to consider how to best leverage these new advertising spaces, as well as whether or not they are even relevant to consider. For example, there are tons
of brands that have no business being on Pinterest, but, when it was the hot new service, everyone had to have a page of their own on the site.

Pragmatic reasoning aside, when the Web offers us so many sub mediums and methods of engagement, experimentation should be encouraged. If we don’t, we’ll be lamenting the days when “only” 88 percent of people ignored our mobile advertising.

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