The Future of Display Is in the Cloud


ADOTAS – In tech – an industry where great companies rise and fall in what feels like the blink of an eye – 17 years might as well be an eternity. It’s been 17 years since AT&T splashed the first banner ad across Hotwired’s site, and in the world of online advertising, not much has changed since. To put this in perspective, 17 years ago, the word “Google” still had a lowercase “g” and didn’t refer to search, Zuckerberg was 10 and tinkering with Atari programming, and Apple’s hot product was the PowerBook.

In a world where constant innovation is the name of the game, why is it that one of the key drivers keeping this virtual world chugging along – online display advertising – has experienced practically no innovation whatsoever? Ignored and misunderstood, the banner ad still consists of the same elements it did 17 years ago: text, art, call to action. Standard stuff that’s in need of a major overhaul, especially when online ad spend is up 20 percent in 2011, according to a forecast by eMarketer. Meanwhile, a recent adpropo survey revealed that close to 70 percent of customers find display ads to be ineffective. Companies are pouring money into online advertising, and for what?

One thing is clear: Display advertising has to become more creative, meaningful and engaging for audiences. Of course, we should give credit where it’s due. Faced with the challenge of developing more engaging ads, many marketers have taken steps to incorporate rich media, including animation and video, into display ads. Still, they continue to overlook one crucial element: Display ads are cumbersome, often disrupting a consumer’s browsing experience with a separate landing page. That’s why consumers don’t click.

Display ads need to become destinations where viewers can engage with the brand inside the unit, rather than being whisked away to a separate landing page. Enter: the cloud. Cloud technology gives display ads a fighting chance, where before they had none.

New cloud ad platforms have the capability to build ads where a brand’s entire campaign messaging is in the unit itself – including collateral, creative content and social media feeds. The ad unit itself is no longer the static product it was 17 years ago. Technology has enabled display ads to bring the full power of the web into a brand’s creative messaging. These units can be customized with in-ad apps, creative content and visual aesthetics to best tell a brand’s story and engage with viewers, who never have to risk a click away.

These display ads have the potential to become true microsites, where brands can plug in apps that bring the full power of their campaign into the ad unit itself. Ads can serve as a nexus for an entire online campaign – no linking to third-party sites like YouTube, or having to develop a landing page for viewers interested in learning more product info. Sweepstakes, theater trailers, movie tickets and show times, video, mobile, chat, social media and more can all be located within a single unit – and more importantly, can be updated in real time to match the latest themes and memes monopolizing consumer attention. Ads become more relevant, timely and powerful – and best of all, deliver superior results.

Cloud technology finally allows ads to be as cool as the websites they occupy. It’s been 17 years, and we’re long overdue for a revolution in the world of online display advertising. The answer is in the cloud.


  1. What “revolution” are you talking about? Everything you cite has been available for years to advertisers with any rich media vendor: Mediamind, Flashtalking, Google, Pointroll, Spongecell, etc.

    I’ve been in the rich media space for 10 years and besides saying the current buzzword of “cloud”, there is nothing new here. Can you articulate the difference between Flite and these other rich vendors? I’m just not seeing the revolution.


    Flite offers real value but it has nothing to do with what’s written here.

    You can keep repeating “The Cloud” and “not much has changed in display in 17 years”, but it would help if you could follow up with an example of something unique Flite is doing to change display advertising. You can’t. Flite = Every Rich Media Company.


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