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Online display ads: Where’s the value?

June 18th, 2013  |  Published in Content Marketing, Integrated Marketing

Limits of online display advertisingOnline display advertising is defined as a type of advertising that typically contains text, logos, photographs, promotion information, and even location maps.

Its single objective is to interrupt, attract web page visitors and get them to “click” off of the page they’re viewing. Online display ads appear on web pages in many forms, including the pervasive web banner.

Where’s the ROI for the prospect pain?

According to a recent report from research firm eMarketer Inc., U.S. marketers spent $14.98 billion on Internet display ads in 2012.

That represented a 21% jump from +$12 billion in 2011. Expectations are that marketers will spend +$17 billion on display ads in 2013, an increase of over 18%. With these numbers, claims about online advertising being in a permanent state of decline appear to be misguided.

Yet, while growth and market size are impressive by any standard, a more considered look at other online display ad metrics are more disturbing. For example: According to online advertising authority, DoubleClick, the average banner ad has a 0.1% click-through rate (CTR). And the standard 468×60 banner fares even worse with only a 0.04% CTR. While these statistics may be eye-opening for those looking for effective marketing tactics, there’s more to consider, including:

  • Only 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads (and some of them aren’t even humans!). (Source: comScore)
  • The average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month. (Source: comScore)
  • About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental. (Source: GoldSpot Media)
  • You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. (Source: Solve Media

Online display ad fiction.

This tongue-in-cheek gallery of consumer reactions sheds some much needed light on the fiction surrounding the effectiveness of online display advertising.

Limits of online display advertisingLimits of online display advertisingLimits of online display advertisingLimits of online display advertising

Time to stop annoying and start adding value.

While most banner ads appear in close proximity to the content you may be interested in on a web page, many contend that they distract and interrupt. And with the ability of just about any web browser to “turn off” display ads, a viable question that brands need to be answer is: “Why are you spending money on these annoying methods to reach your prospects and customers?

The shift from paid media to earned and owned media has now been under way for years. Perhaps it’s time to consider how you you might actually be able to provide long-term value to your prospects instead of irritating them with marketing techniques that may have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Becoming a continuous supplier of education, insights and tools that prospects and customers will find relevant
 and valuable in helping them research, choose and use your products or services (what’s know as Content Marketing) would be a more effective and efficient place to start.

Come clean.

Are you using online display ads in your marketing tactics? What value are they delivering to your brand?


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Paul Pruneau, and Teamworks Communications, Inc., develop communications and brand strategy, engineer content to express customer value, and create integrated online and Content Marketing solutions to help businesses succeed. Follow Paul on Twitter, connect on Google+, send an email or just call 415.789.5830.

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