OPINION: Five considerations for the future of digital advertising

Sarah James
By Sarah James | 30 April 2013
Sarah James, head of digital at Carat Melbourne

In Australia, we must combine our own knowledge with that of our global colleagues so that we can stay connected to worldwide innovation and drive it locally; developing our staff and our thinking to benefit our clients in this market. As we continue our digital expansion as a business, we must focus on these learnings before digital becomes a buying-centric commodity.

A few weeks back at AdTech San Francisco, I attended a presentation by Google’s Senior Vice President of Advertising, Susan Wojcicki, where she outlined her five ideas for the future of digital advertising. Applying these themes locally and driving innovation to our roles provides the best round up of what I took away from my time at AdTech.

In a consumer-centric world where the future of media is in digital, Susan offered the following five considerations when engaging audiences and affecting their perception of digital advertising. My thoughts on each follow.

1. Choice
Consumers are becoming participants and deciding how and when they are viewing ads.

Engagement ads are a perfect example of enabling choice on the Internet, offering ten times the consumer involvement of a standard ad. These ads offer the information that the consumer wants after an ad, with a call to action, such as a link to behind the scenes footage at the end of a movie trailer, or a click to buy at the end of a retail ad. This is a real game-changer and we need to think about creating content that users want to see; that is compelling and that will fit in the format of YouTube.

The impact of customer choice is more and more apparent; we are seeing publishers providing flexible buying models, whereby the participant selects the pre-roll they wish to watch. Because users can access more premium content online in a timely manner, the value exchange to watch an ad works for all parties and brands can reap the benefits. As brands move to a multi-screen approach we expect to see a rise in the production of various iterations of branded content to cater for the increased usage of mobile devices accessing the internet and encourage a consumer experience beyond just watching the ad.

2. Control
Users will participate in the ecosystem if we provide them with enough value and control.

Similar to providing the participant with choice, offering control will also drive the maximum outcome for brands. Holden recently took advantage of this insight with their ‘Build the Commodore’ scavenger hunt whereby users had to piece together 101 images of the car that were scattered across the five capital cities and online. This sparked much social buzz and the competition generated high registrations, offering participants a unique preview of the new car and giving them a feeling of control over their interaction with the product.

3. Charm
Ads are becoming more interactive and beautiful at scale; therefore, in digital, we need to create scale for all ads as opposed to just homepage buyouts.

Some of the most successful executions have seen the participant expand the creative to full screen, unlocking further potential for the brand to deliver other engaging pieces of content. Further to that, working to the hardware available across mobile, it enables brands to deliver original and fun experiences driving relevancy to the participant.

The work produced by Mobile Embrace for the release of Disney’s Brave provides a perfect example of this, whereby the user had to swipe away the image on the screen to reveal the m-site which hosted a range of content about the movie. This execution delivered a higher than average engagement rate of users that interacted with the ad and swiped the screen to learn more about the movie.

4. Connected
Ads will help people live their lives on the go.

Multiple devices are blurring together and everything on mobile is causing us to rethink our business. Multi-screening is driving us to think differently with the way we structure our plans from TV and digital pre-roll to screens. The challenge is providing content that is relevant to the platform at the right time. At Carat Melbourne, we are working with clients to drive transmedia theory to our communications plans enabling us to connect brand stories across multiple devices in a meaningful way and get the most out of each campaign.

5. Collaboration
Clicks will only be one measure in digital advertising.

Work on developing an active gross rating point to standardise inventory is underway, creating a measure similar to broadcast. Improvements to Google Analytics will help to understand what is happening across sites from multiple screens and users.

Whilst measuring impact is an ongoing challenge in our industry, we must continue to develop in the area, so that we can iterate the success of a digital media campaign by providing more robust data. The data we provide our clients showcases reach, as well as creative impact; however, I also see high value in third party research to help to tie back the shift in brand perception and measures from the inclusion of online advertising to any media plan. This is especially powerful to showcase the incremental reach of running online video in conjunction with traditional TV. We are working with several of our clients to prove this hypothesis which is really changing the way that we are planning through the proven results.

These five key considerations will shape the future of our industry. With forward thinking, we can harness them to get the best digital benefits for our clients in this consumer driven, convergent world.

Sarah James
Head of Digital
Carat Melbourne

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