Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum: Has online display advertising lost its appeal compared with other media?
A view from Staff

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum: Has online display advertising lost its appeal compared with other media?

Big brands have been turning away from the digital medium - 36% spent less on it in 2010 than in 2009 - but better targeting and more tailored messages can ensure that it is a vital part of the mix


James Murphy, Founding partner, Adam & Eve

The shine may have come off digital display over the past year, as marketers have necessarily diverted budget to get their social offerings up to scratch.  But don’t write display advertising off – it’ll be back, for one old reason and two new ones:
 -  First, continuing innovation in ad formats and better integration of data means we can create ever more rewarding, relevant and beautiful engagement or eye-catching takeovers.  Consumers continue to want to interact with premium ads that ask for more than just a click.
 -  Second, clients are realizing that focusing on the ‘last click’ has meant that display’s contribution to a sale has been vastly underestimated.  New tools to measure and attribute its importance should mean it will no longer be seen as a luxury within the mix.
 - Finally, dynamic ad products and retargeting approaches represent an exciting opportunity to communicate using messaging that is far more personal and meaningful.  Whilst the majority of work in these areas at the moment is functional and DR based, we’re working on using these technologies creatively, to coax the consumer, rather than nag them into submission.


Alison Brolls, Global head of marketing comms planning, Nokia

Success for any brand has to be about presenting your product or service to people who need it and, ultimately, selling it to them. To deliver that success, brands can choose from a wealth of both traditional and digital media. Yes, advertisers have to be open to testing new ways of engaging with consumers. However, the bottom line is that what-ever media a brand chooses to use must show payback.

What has changed with the rise of digital is that, if your brand is missing from consumers' 'world of digital', then it will be noticed - arguably more so than in the case of any other media. However, digital, including online display advertising, still needs to deliver.

So the decision for a brand balancing finite budgets, and deciding between online display advertising versus other media, is not 'if', but 'how'. Online display advertising has to earn its place on the schedule and the decision needs to be based on what it can deliver.

Online display advertising has not lost its appeal, but appeal is relative and needs to be earned.


Lesley Wilson, Head of marketing community and brand operations, BT

I don't think so. Blame the message, not the medium. Digital is still seen as a bit of a throwaway medium, maybe because it is so intangible or because it is the young pretender in the marketing mix. But a great call to action and great design will grab attention, whether on the internet or a bus stop.

The internet is unique because it is interactive. You are always only a few clicks away from tickets to a concert, a birthday present or a house. It appeals to a different kind of advertiser - the sort of company that sells things you are likely to buy online, such as phones or broadband.

Like most of the top 100 online display advertisers, BT is one of those companies, but we talk to such a wide audience that we can't assume they are all online. We tend to use digital as part of broader marketing campaigns that cover a range of media.

Digital advertising is measurable and it works for us. We will keep using it as long as that is the case.


Carl Ratcliff, Executive planning director, Elvis

How often do you click on a banner ad? Probably not that often, and then usually by mistake. The majority of online advertising has become, at best, an annoyance and, at worst, unnoticeable. The standard flashing rectangles we so frequently skim over were invented in 1994. Now most users dismiss them as irrelevant, due to the over-saturation of traditional-format 'crap ads' that pepper the web.

However, online display advertising should not be discarded as dead media. In fact, standards of targeting have improved, giving display ads potential and making them more relevant and more useful to the consumer.

As the majority of internet activity is goal-driven, effective banner ads need to be meaningful. They need to reflect browsing history and suggest information that is pertinent, acting as a welcome addition to the browsing experience. How ironic that from 25 May, we will need to opt-in to such behaviour tracking as part of European e-privacy laws. As marketers, we had better make that effort to opt-in worthwhile.


Peter Duffy, Chief marketing officer, easyJet

If anything, the opposite is true.

Advancements in tracking and data technology mean that display is now more powerful than ever.

Of course, it should be seen as part of a broader digital suite, but by serving people with tailored messages when they are in the market to buy, display can deliver increased relevance, which, in turn, improves the performance of the medium.

Digital touchpoints are great because they allow a marketer to gain a holistic view of a user's path to purchase. Perhaps this hypothesis comes from a major industry issue - the quality of online-spend tracking data. To use easyJet as an example, the reported figure of our online display spend is far less than the actual amount.

Display should not have lost its appeal, but it has certainly evolved. If people think the appeal has died, then perhaps they should take another look how they are using the medium.


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