Display advertising:a user–centeredapproachBy: Dan Hou, Senior Product Strategist and Aaron Shapiro, Partner | June 15, 201045 Main Street, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201718 625 4843‑—www.hugeinc.com
Summary.A user-centered approach to display advertising— Research Methodology: Key Findings:one that is sensitive to how today’s users actually Our research team conducted one-on-one • Positioning ads too far above the fold oftenengage with traditional and multimedia ads— surveys with 60 casual Internet users ages 18 reduces the amount of time the ad is visible.can lead to significantly higher recall. This is to 45 to better understand how users approachparticularly true for new formats such as video multimedia and banner ads. • Relevance is the strongest driver of ad recall.pre-roll, video overlay, push-down banners andother interruptive ads. Publishers and advertisers Users were asked to complete various tasks that • Heavy ad repetition results in unaided adare increasingly relying on these formats after demonstrated their daily Internet routines over a recall.users learned to ignore static banner ads. But 45-minute period. Tasks included browsing newstraditional banner ads can still be memorable headlines and video clips, finding the latest sports • Interruptive advertising improves recall, but atif carefully tailored to trends in user behavior. results, booking a flight for vacation, selecting the expense of the user experience.Regardless of format, a user-centered approach a restaurant for dinner, choosing a movie andto display advertising efforts is required if ROI is showtime, researching consumer electronics, • Video pre-roll performs better than overlay.to be maximized. and watching video content that a friend recommended. We interviewed the participants • Users are developing behaviors to ignore about ad recall following this period of use. video ads.
The Value of Above-the-Fold Ad Placement is Overrated Customarily, ads placed higher on the page command greater cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) due to the assumption of greater visibility. However, a user’s target content is often located below the fold, and that motivates users to scroll away from the leaderboard.Fold For example on MovieFone.com, a site frequented during our study, showtimes are located below the fold. As a result, users scrolled down quickly, sometimes even before the above-the-fold ad fully loaded. Obviously for a display ad to even have a chance at making an impression on a user, the user has to see it. Therefore, a smaller ad placed further down the page adjacent to desired content could perform better than a larger ad that’s above the fold and closer to the global navigation. Relevance Powers Ad Recall The vast majority of directly and indirectly recalled ads were ones that were relevant to the user’s interests. In one instance, a BMW ad consisting of synced display and pre-roll ads left no impression on nearly all users who saw it. However one user, a self-professed car lover, was able to recall the Figure 1: Content position below the fold particular advertisement, the brand and the exact car model featured. This was observed again involving a banner ad for video game “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” on YouTube’s homepage. The only person who recalled seeing the ad was a 19-year-old male who frequently played video games. He was not only able to recall the creative and layout of the advertisement, but also the specific game featured in the ad. Relevance helps users notice an ad and drives home the brand and the brand’s message. Size, on the other hand, doesn’t power recall. The “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” video game ad occupied a full 1/3 of the space above the fold (Figure 2), but was ignored by 11 out of 12 users Figure 2: YouTube “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” masthead who came upon it.
Heavy Repetition Pays DividendsRepetition strongly influences recall. Bannerads that are perceived to be ubiquitous and Figure 3unchanged over a long period of time maintainuser mindshare. In exit interviews, people recalledNetflix and Classmates.com ads, but neither recall rates by ad formatwas displayed during the course of the study. It 50%is therefore evident that once a high threshold ofimpressions is met, advertisers achieve unaideddisplay ad recall. 41%Interruptive Ads Have High Recall, but Can 40%BackfireInterruptive ads such as pop-ups and full-screenoverlays make lasting impressions on users, butthe impression tends to be a bad one. Nearly 30% 30%half of the respondents directly or indirectlyrecalled interruptive ads, making the format themost recalled type in our study (Figure 3). Butit was also vehemently disliked. The majority ofparticipants expressed annoyance and frustration 19% 20%when discussing interruptive ads.“They are annoying. Very annoying. Those fullads…. I don’t mind banner and sidebars, but don’t 10%make me stop and click and close a window toget to where I’m going. I don’t like that extra click.”–Allyson, 34 2.2% 0%“F**k!” -- Sean, 26, in response to JVC overlay on Static Interruptive Overlay Pre-RollCNET Banner
recall rates for pre-roll recall rates for pre-roll recall ratesVideo Overlay Recall is Good,but Pre–Roll is BetterVideo overlay and pre-roll ads stood out aseffective ad formats over the course of the study.Both were dramatically more memorable to usersthan typical banner ads. However, pre-roll was theclear winner. It was significantly more effective interms of brand and message recall. recall rates for video overlay recall rates for pre-roll recall rates for video overlay
Users are Learning to Ignore Video Ads What to Do?Banner blindness is already a well-documented When designing a marketing plan, advertisersphenomenon. But users are developing video ad should:blindness now too. Some users in the study wereobserved avoiding video advertisements similar to • Ensure that ad placements are close tothe way one would avoid television commercials. meaningful content, rather than simply beingWhen pre-roll ads ran, users would shift their above the fold.attention to other content on the page, completelyscroll away from the video or direct their attention • Implement a behavioral targeting solutionto another browser window. Audio cues let them across all of a publisher’s properties.know when the ad was over. • When considering implementing anOverlay ads, meanwhile, are getting the pop-up interruptive marketing effort, carefully weigh thetreatment. A few users reflexively closed the value of brand awareness against the cost tooverlay within a second or two of it popping up, the brand’s goodwill.never really observing the contents of the ad. • Produce pre-roll or overlay video ads. The“I usually have other pages open at the same higher production costs can be balanced withtime; I’ll tweet while I’m waiting for the ad to higher recall.finish.” – Lisa, 29 • Continue to experiment with new, innovative“As soon as [the ad] went over what I was reading, ad placements to stay ahead of ever-evolvingI switched to the next tab. I’ll flip back when I user avoidance behaviors.figure it’s over.” –Mary, 49
Appendix. Definition of Key Terms The following terms are used throughout this document with specific meanings: Display Ads: This category includes static and Video Pre-Roll: This category includes video ads animated banner ads in a variety of placements that played before, during or after an online video. and sizes. Text ads are not included in this The lengths ranged from 5-30 seconds. category and were not considered during this study. Direct Recall: A user was able to remember specific brand and/or messaging aspects of an Interruptive Ads: This category includes pop- advertisement. ups that open in a new window, interstitials and large pushdown ads. Indirect Recall: The user only had a vague recollection of general ad characteristics. This Video Overlay Ads: This category includes ads data is still relevant and important to capture that overlay an online video. The size and specific because indirect recall would still influence format varies, but most could be closed at the purchase decisions in a shopping environment user’s discretion. where there are visual brand cues.
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