Why Gamble on Brand Advertising Effectiveness?


blackjack_smallADOTAS – “You go back Jack do it again / Wheel turnin’ ’round and ’round / You go back Jack do it again” -Steely Dan

It should come as no surprise that brand marketers want to target attentive, receptive consumers who are capable of recalling specific brand messages at the purchase decision point. Unfortunately, this goal remains mostly a fantasy.

Television ads are memorable and people are eager to discuss them in great detail—they are often a natural, expected break in the action. People don’t go online seeking ads, they go for specific content and rich experiences that are often so engaging in and of themselves that advertisers don’t stand a chance!

Sadly, the online ad community has translated this loud rejection as an opportunity to perpetuate the insanity by improving banner ads, which has proven as effective as banning social media across the Middle East.

People don’t wake up in the morning with a yearning to “engage,” or “click” the way we’d like them to.  They want to be entertained and informed in an environment where an errant mouseover doesn’t ruin their experience.  So why do we, as an industry, bet so much time and money on new, complex-sounding data and reporting schemes that only really serve to highlight the futility of click-through rates that round to zero percent?

It’s a noble effort but the facts haven’t changed. One click out of one thousand impressions is terminal.  Consumers simply don’t remember banner ads or their messages. All the algorithms in the world haven’t changed that – our best and brightest scientists and mathematicians are still largely incapable of delivering on the promise of brand memory creation at scale.

If we’re going to gamble on the future of display advertising, shouldn’t we at least try to stack the deck with meaningful research and value-added solutions?

New research published in the International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications (IJIMC) found that type-in ads substantially boost brand and message recall among study participants. In the study, type-ins replaced captchas (the user verification boxes with the squiggly text people fill out to leave comments or change passwords on website) with brand messages in quotes and an input box and researchers found study participants’ direct interaction with the type-in ad dramatically improved brand recall (see more information here).

This good news for Solve Media is clearly self-serving, but it should be valuable for the entire industry. Online brand advertising can be simplified: if you don’t impart a message and that message isn’t remembered, your campaign has failed. Type-ins get the user to interact with the ad and remember the brand message. Banners don’t. Easy.

If there was another way to deliver consumer engagement at scale, we’d shout about it in the streets, and encourage the industry to do the same. We recognize we didn’t invent type-in advertising and we are quite certain that we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas to engage consumers online.

It’s well worth it for everyone who depends on the stability of the online advertising ecosystem to continue to identify ways to improve its health. Only a fraction of the $91 billion spent annually on brand advertising is spent online. If the industry could convince advertisers to invest more in brand advertising online (even just an additional 10%) it would be a windfall.

Fortunately, the IJIMC report says there is an impactful, simple way to advertise to consumers online–get them to directly interact with an ad to be certain they comprehend the message in that ad. It’s proof there is a viable option beyond the tired banner ad. Our hope is that this innovation opens the door for other useful brand advertising technologies, and encourages the industry to seek new ways to measure engagement and brand campaign effectiveness.

One study doesn’t end the discussion, but it should at least spark one. The current “all-in” click-through rate based methodologies don’t work for brand advertising. The industry needs to re-think how we apply math, science and psychology to the problem since the current offerings are failing us.

Brands don’t want a few crummy clicks—they want market share—and consumers can’t buy products and services they can’t remember!   Why should we gamble on whether or not a brand message can be recalled, if we can be sure of it?


  1. Well that study is self serving for Solve Media… because 10 years of Dynamic Logic studies have proven your point that CTR matters not, but to say that banner ads are useless is to say any advertising you can “type in” is useless. If you’re going to throw a blanket like that over the topic then you’ve clearly never seen these studies.

    Frequency is a key measure of banner ad effectiveness. Proven, specifically for the TV market, to drive tune in worlds above CTR – 15% higher intent to tune in in fact. Engagement time, also key, and sort of your point.

    So my question is, if it’s so hard to get a simple click, why is it that much easier to compel someone to type in a banner? 50/50 agree with you here.

  2. This is spot-on; banners make no sense–all the accountability with none of the ability to get in front of the audience. At least this gets in front of people and has them pay attention


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