Tim Elkington, director of research & strategy, IAB
Tim Elkington, director of research & strategy, IAB
A view from Tim Elkington

Think BR: Size matters online

Are larger online ads more effective at helping brands achieve their objectives, asks Tim Elkington, director of research & strategy, IAB.

Online advertising is changing - it’s getting bigger. Advertisers are embracing new larger ad formats, particularly the billboard (970 x 250), half page (300 x 600) and wallpaper formats.

The industry is getting excited about these new ads - media owners because they command a premium and advertisers because the sheer size of the advertisements allows them to deliver really creative and engaging ad content that previously was difficult to execute online.

But is all this excitement worth it, do larger ads really work more effectively and help brands achieve their objectives?

The answer is quite simply, yes. The IAB has released a global study called Size Matters which proves the effectiveness of large online display formats.

The research uses data from Millward Brown, who assessed 770 campaigns in 15 countries across a two year period through surveys from over 750,000 respondents.

The data establishes the effect of exposure to six online advertising formats - the billboard, wallpaper, half page, MPU, banner and skyscraper - across five key brand metrics - brand awareness, ad awareness, message association, brand favourability and purchase intent - by comparing awareness and attitudes of those that were and were not exposed to the different ad formats.

The results spoke for themselves, revealing that the new larger formats (billboard, wallpaper and half page) worked extremely well to drive brand awareness, ad awareness and message association.

The wallpaper delivered excellent results for brand awareness providing an average uplift of 2.1% (compared to an average of 1.1% for the traditional formats - MPU, skyscraper and banner). For ad awareness, the billboard offered a staggering average uplift of 16.6% (compared to 1.8% for traditional formats).

For message association the wallpaper performed seven times better than the established formats and for brand favourability the billboard showed over three times the average uplift than the uplift provided by the original online display formats.

While these results were very positive, the analysis also threw up some challenges.

The best performing format in generating purchase intent was the skyscraper, implying that at the end of the purchase funnel, when advertisers wanted to generate sales rather than just awareness, the new formats were less effective.

This could be because of the polarising nature of the creative used in these high impact online formats - a homepage takeover can sometimes be too much for people, the creative has to be carefully considered to maximise impact whilst not overwhelming the user.

Some of the best examples of these bigger formats were recently showcased at the IAB’s Future Format awards, with the Telegraph’s cascade format (for PC, tablet and smart phone) voted the best new online advertising format.

With the proliferation of new formats continuing, advertisers and agencies are becoming more creative with their use of online and media owners are finding an increasing number of ways to expose users to brand messages while not interrupting the content that they’re there to enjoy.

The future for brand based advertising looks exciting.

Tim Elkington, director of research & strategy, IAB