December 17, 2010

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Display Advertising Options

No doubt some of you have found yourself locked in a meeting with an advertising agency wondering what language they were speaking. You thought you were there to talk about how to get your face on the internet and generate more business and what you were faced with was “pixels, .gifs, skyscrapers and megabytes”. You’re a professional and don’t want to look silly, so you nod knowingly and hope to goodness you get what you paid for!

Prior to Christmas I posted about Banner Advertising - the different types and how to make it more effective. I explained some of the online advertising terms and hopefully simplified the mystery of banners. As a follow up I thought we’d explore some other sorts of ‘Display Advertising’ available to help promote your business on the web.

There’s loosely 10 types of Display Advertising (but more - and variations - thereof - are being invented all the time):

  1. Rectangles
  2. Banners
  3. Buttons
  4. Skyscrapers
  5. Pop-ups/unders
  6. In-page video
  7. Floating units
  8. Expandable/retractable units
  9. Between-the-page units
  10. Curtain ads
Each of these have their merits and drawbacks when it comes to getting cut-through for your advertising message and their effectiveness (click-through rates, page impressions) on your target sites should be discussed in detail with your advertising agency before going ahead.
Let’s first have a look at what each ad unit is.
1. Rectangles - usually a 300×250 pixel shape that appears within the content on a page. Slightly larger and smaller versions are available. They can be very effective if placed within highly relevant content aimed at your target audience and are quite commonplace on news and industry-specific websites. An example can be seen here on the right hand side.
2. Banners - see this post
3. Buttons - very small ad spaces, usually 120 x 90 or 60 pixels, or sometimes 125 x 125 square. Good for quick brand recognition rather than a specific product message. Cheap alternative.
4. Skyscrapers - 160 wide x 600 high, these are large ad spaces that can contain more detail such as images. Running down either side of the screen they are highly visible and allow for good interaction or rich media ads. See an example here - Biggin & Scott on the right hand side.
5. Pop-ups/unders - these ad types go in and out of favour as they are more intrusive to the user than other display options. The ad appears in a new window either on top of (pop-ups) or underneath (pop-unders) the existing window you are viewing. A pop-up needs to be closed to be able to continue reading the page you were on and a pop-under will be left behind on your desktop once you close your current window. Here’s an example of a desktop with dozens of pop-ups on it.
6. In-page video - an advertisement that can include streaming video, games, music videos or animation that may appear before, during or after the content you are currently viewing. The video ad may be either live, archived or in a downloadable streaming format. Obviously a much more interactive and visible display ad option that allows for a detailed message, but it is also more expensive than the other formats. There are some industry standards around video player sizes and content length etc, but no hard and fast rules as yet. See this video ad for Harvey Norman here.
7. Floating units - where an advertisement, of variable size, may simply appear over top of the browser window you are viewing, then disappear after a few seconds if there has been no user interaction. These can be frustrating if you aren’t expecting them, or they can be a welcome surprise if highly targeted. This is an example for the Florida Panthers game that just appeared over the screen from the right.
8. Expandable/retractable units - an ad unit that the user can mouse over to expand beyond the traditional banner or skyscraper dimensions, to see more of what’s on offer from the advertiser.  These units offer greater advertising real estate and opportunity for consumer engagement, such as building suspense in your ad message by using a teaser in the original landing spot. Here’s an example of how they work.
9. Between-the-page units - or ‘transitional’ ads, are initiated when you click on a link to go to another page and an ad catches you in transition before you arrive at the next page. Mostly you’ll see a simple ad unit with a skip button, but sometimes the ad may be more interactive. To avoid overly annoying users, these ads should be highly relevant to the page content or may be used as a sponsorship of sorts. To increase effectiveness of these transitional ads, there should be an additional ad on the landing page where the user is navigating to.
10. Curtain ads - a high impact ad that usually appears on the homepage of a website (thereby considered premium advertising real estate and often has a high cost associated). The ad drops down once (like a curtain!) for a few seconds and then rolls back up, usually leaving behind an integrated brand message on the page.
So, now that you are completely versed in the different types of display advertising, what do you do?? No matter how complex, pretty or fun, the rules of engagement should always be the same - consider the cost vs benefit and likely success of the advertising module for your brand/service on your chosen website. Depending on whether you work with an advertising agency or go direct to a website, you should ensure you get case studies and examples of other similar businesses using the same types of ad units on that particular site. Different ad types will achieve different results with different audiences. You should also consider the passive (banners, skyscrapers, rectangles) vs the active (transitional, floating, curtain) advertising approach and decide how much interaction you require from your users.
The most important thing to remember with any display advertising however, is to offer a succinct, clear message to your viewer with a call to action and ensure that you can measure the results of the ad. Any decent publisher or advertising agency will be able to offer you this.

[image: flickr/Fortyseven]


Related posts:

  1. Effective Banner Advertising – Part 2
  2. Effective Banner Advertising – Part 1
  3. Tips for Display Ad Clicks
  4. Three New Options in Mobile Advertising
  5. UK Study: Clicks Don’t Matter



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