Online advertising sucks. You already know the reasons why: First, there are the visuals -- most ads are ugly and interrupt the browsing experience -- and then there's what ads do to website-load times. Users do everything in their power to avoid those irrelevant, intrusive ads: Nearly 200 million people worldwide use ad-blocking software.
And the result for publishers is almost $22 billion in lost ad revenue.
So, what's a publisher to do? Ad scrollers help. This relatively new format appears as a window, running in line within the content feed. As the user scrolls through an article, the ad moves smoothly and seamlessly on and off the screen.
When mobile-device users were shown the scrollers, 51 percent of those surveyed expressed a favorable view of the brand involved. So one implication here was clear, and crucial: An ad’s placement is just as important (perhaps more so) than aesthetic variables, like copy, color or design.
Location, location, location
When you're trying to raise your ad's profile, remember that every aspect of an ad should scream "cohesion," with each element reinforcing the next. You’d never see Mercedes buying an ad with poor placement and spam copy, nor would you see Tesla releasing an overly intrusive one.
Both companies want to sell a $100,000 car, yet neither display would reinforce a $100,000 mindset.
Your company’s advertising method, then, sends a clear message to consumers about the worth of your wares. Without fail, a bad ad in a premium spot will out-perform a great ad in a spam spot.
Take banner ads: The higher they appear on the page, the more effective they’ll be. The click-through rate of above-the-fold ads is nearly seven times greater than that of ads found farther down on the screen. For young companies on a limited budget, that aspect is extremely important and often worth the effort of buying space at the reader’s eye line.
By the same token, poor ad placement can affect consumer perception. Ads that don’t disrupt the user experience have scored much better than have more intrusive ads. What’s more, ads placed mid-article have scored the lowest. The reason? They interrupt the flow of reading.
Inevitably, those brands advertising in this fashion are seen in a negative light, which lessens public perception of their brands.
No place for steamrolling
A campaign’s success greatly depends on how it affects the audience. If it steamrolls consumers and invades their screens, the message sometimes gets lost. At Benja, we learned that you can improve the customer ad experience by following a few simple rules:
1. Respect the consumer. The time spent on a site will vary by consumer -- and by the day of the week, for that matter. Some say the average time is 15 seconds; others say it’s just shy of a minute. No matter where you fall on that range, know that viewers' time is precious and must be respected.
Consumers visit sites to get information about something other than your brand. Pushing an ad in peoples’ faces not only shows a lack of respect, it shows a total disregard for the user experience. Keep this in mind with your online ads.
Our own ad format enables users to browse and complete transactions within an ad. We don’t take people away from what they’re on the site to do; and that strategy still allows any brand using it to convert consumers into customers.
2. Complement the experience. Personalization is everything. In fact, one-third of marketers say it’ll define the future of marketing. Thanks to recent advancements in digital technology, a message can be customized to a person.
Our company could easily use retargeting to “personalize” ads. All we’d need to do would be to drop a cookie on visitors’ browsers; then an ad would display any time those visitors visited the site of a retargeting provider.
The problem, or problems, with that method, however, is that those ads rarely complement the user experience. They also come off as stalker-ish: Wherever a user goes, some brand isn’t too far behind. Plus, the advertising would be better used for people who have already bought your product.
Accordingly, instead of retargeting, we lean on other available data to make tangentially relevant content. Perhaps the most interesting point is that this practice hasn’t hurt our conversion rate.
3. Consider the click experience. After seeing an ad offering "30 percent off," imagine how irked you’d be if clicking on it took you to a page several steps away from the sale. Jumping through hoops does little more than encourage people to click away -- despite the unfortunate reality that most ecommerce advertisements require the user to take 10 to 20 steps to complete a transaction.
So, make sure your links direct consumers to the right page on your site. Your goal is to bring people closer to, not further from, the transaction. After all, what’s the point of interrupting a sale if that’s your end goal?
A final note: If you feel the need to promote other products or services, do it after the original purchase. Trying to “upsell” before the original buy is completed is a quick way to get consumers to abandon their shopping carts altogether.
The overall message is clear: As with product or service design, keep the consumer in mind when developing your ad. Ponder its placement, and think about how it will affect the user. If you’re not intruding into the consumer’s space and stymieing the experience, you’re already a few steps ahead of many brands.