The Evolution of Ad-Tech: From Flash-powered Banners to Relevant, Interactive Content

Wait! Don’t turn your ad blocker on just yet...

We’ve all been cruising through someone’s blog and had an obnoxious ad jump out at us while reading or a flashing banner beaming in our faces. These ads are annoying - and we're one of the advertisers! They get in the way of the user experience and don’t add value. Enter ad-blockers. In 2015, it was estimated that $22 billion would be lost by publishers due to ad blockers on desktop computers.

As an advertiser, you know ads serve a purpose. Bloggers/website owners like making money for what they do, advertisers like selling things to make profits, and audiences like to consume online content without being bombarded by irrelevant marketing.

So, what’s the middle ground here?  You need to capture the attention of audiences by being a welcome participant in the experience, not by standing out. A step in the right direction is placing ads that are relevant to page content ("Hey, you’re reading a cat blog? Well, I’m selling cat food!") and not disrupting the user experience (I understand you are reading this blog post, so, my ad is going to be at the bottom or top of the article. Only a monster would put it in the middle!).

As an advertiser, how do you do this?

1. Understand your audiences and where they live online

Every marketer knows that the key to life is ‘know your audience.’ So, by understanding your audience needs and knowing where they are online, you can better target them. It’s important to remember you can’t choose just one channel either; having an ad on one cat blog probably won’t get you very far. You need to integrate your marketing campaigns across multiple channels to make an impact.

2. Pull rather than push

Customers are going to research products before purchasing. That’s just the world we live in. Think about it: if you’re thinking of upgrading your toothbrush, you’ll probably hop onto Amazon to see reviews of the best-rated ones. That means push marketing measures, that is getting the product in front of the customer at the point of purchase, just doesn’t cut it anymore. By pulling customers your way through interactive, online ads, you can engage throughout the customer lifecycle.

3. Create seamless tech interactions

Like we said in this article previously, you have to blend into the user experience to add value and not annoy… but, you can’t blend in so much that you go unnoticed. To do this, you need to implement interactive experiences from the first interaction to check out. Make experiences enticing and fun. Studies have shown that using interactivity in digital magazines and online videos you can increase engagement, brand involvement, and interest.

As ad technology moves forward (and ad block technology advances), remember that you need to enhance the user experience, not take away from it. Understand your audience from what they like to what channels they use online, engage in pull marketing rather than push, and embrace seamless interactive experiences. These efforts will increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and maybe even convince people to take their ad blocks down.