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It’s Never too Late to Dump Poor Performing Ad Units

Written on
Jul 9, 2014 
Author
Dave Zinman  |

I will bet you a million dollars that you’re wasting even more than that on display ad units that have no hope of engaging your audiences and turning a profit. Why? Because traditional ad units have been shown to be wildly ineffective due to the banner blindness phenomenon.

Just like it’s good to periodically clean out your closet to rid yourself of the clothes you can’t fit into anymore (or that are horribly out of style,) it’s a great idea to regularly evaluate your display mix and toss out the old, useless, standard ad units that are doing nothing for your revenue except draining it.

So, how do you know what to keep and what to toss? You’re probably already conducting testing and monitoring KPIs but the real question is: are you testing all of the important things?

KPIs like click-through rates can be helpful when you need a basic measurement standard that your entire team and C-suite can understand, but the fact is, clicks are not the performance metrics that actually translate to engagement and revenue. Today’s savvy generation of Internet users are far less likely to click on ads (our survey found that half of consumers never click on ads and another 35 percent click on less than 5 ads per month) and even if they do, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ads have truly resonated.

Before you can begin to measure engagement, you must be sure that your ads are being seen in the first place. (Here’s a hint: they probably aren’t.) Eye tracking studies can be extremely useful for determining how well your ads stack up against banner blindness, and should be regularly conducted to monitor your ads’ ability to capture attention. But if you’re sticking with antiquated units like banners and medium boxes, I’d be willing to bet that you won’t be pleased with the results.

That same survey found that up to 86 percent of consumers suffer from banner blindness, which means that we as an industry need to rethink our approach to display, but it also means we need to rethink our definitions of display success. Your click-throughs, engagement rates and other KPIs may be in line with industry averages, but those averages are nowhere close to what they could or should be.

No matter the size of your organization or ad budget, shouldn’t your goal be to maximize the return on that spend instead of just accepting the waste as part of the cost of doing business? To truly optimize your display buy, its time to embrace the new generation of ad units that actually capture attention and drive engagement.

Non-traditional formats such as page margin banners and in-text ads with native placements have been shown to deliver up to 30 times the engagement rate of traditional units and placements. Formats that don’t look like the same old ads consumers have learned to ignore, combined with native and non-traditional placements powered by real-time intent, can enable advertisers to deliver a relevant yet unobtrusive ad experience that actually breaks through banner blindness and delivers real engagement.

The digital advertising industry has reached a turning point; we can no longer accept dismal return rates and we can no longer cling to the old ways if we want to reach and engage the new generation of consumers. We are long overdue for a shake up that will change what it means to advertise online.

Advertising keeps the Internet free, but it shouldn’t be a necessary evil. We should be providing consumers with relevant ad content that actually enhances their experience without impeding their access to content. When consumers actually appreciate the content of an ad and how it is delivered to them, we all win, but that industry shake-up happens one advertiser at a time. So it’s time to clean house and replace those non-performing units with new formats and placements that will actually get results for your organization and change the face of the industry.





Dave Zinman is chief executive officer of Infolinks. Prior to joining Infolinks, Dave was chief operating officer for Inadco. Before Inadco, he was vp and general manager, running the display advertising business for Yahoo! in North America. He joined Yahoo! as part of the BlueLithium acquisition. At BlueLithium, he was svp and general manager of the company's advertising network. The company reinvented the ad network by employing innovative targeting and optimization technologies to improve advertising performance.

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