Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Future of Digital Ad Formats

Landing on the ESPN homepage today I was served a beautiful, “full bleed” video intensive, evidently custom ad, that canvased most of my laptop screen. After a 15 second play, the ad collapsed, and my usual ESPN homepage user experience resumed. I watched the full ad because it was relevant and was served in a pleasant way that didn’t intrude on my ESPN experience.

The digital ad world has yet to evolve much from the earliest versions of advertising formats, developed when website coding was in its infancy. Since early HTML and Angelfire websites, web design has evolved into much more striking visual appearance, made accessible to the masses by major progress made by site-building services like Wordpress, Wix, and Adobe among others. Within minutes, an amateur can have a website built that looks like it belongs in 2017, with beautiful user experience that translates well to mobile and the remaining tablets out there.

Yet given an option to “monetize” their site, the site builder will pull in a network, usually Google, to serve ad creative that hasn’t changed at all since the infancy of the internet. Appearing awkwardly on the bottom of a glossy new website is typically a standard “banner” ad, usually static, that sits awkwardly on a web design that befits its time period. And these standard banners still comprise the bulk of internet advertising.

This gap in progress between web design, and ad unit incorporation, has resulted in a significant breakdown of digital advertising. The industry will recover once the use of standard banners has hit rock bottom, and networks become capable of running beautiful, video based ads that cover nearly the whole screen but don’t interrupt user experience, in a way similar to the aforementioned ESPN ad (which is clearly a custom job). The industry will evolve to mimic television advertising more than standard display advertising – large video units will proliferate as broadband access becomes cheaper and more accessible, and advertisers will come full circle back to video as being their primary advertising medium, as it was before the internet.

No comments: