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Taking Charge in the Wild West Era of High Impact Advertising

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Rob Garber, Managing Director, Undertone EMEA

Think back on all of the media you consumed yesterday - as a consumer, how many marketing messages do you think you saw? The estimated number is 7,000 (Forrester Research, “The State of Consumers and Technology Benchmark”) – but of course, it’s nigh on impossible for us to recall every single one of them. Even those of us with great memories could remember at most one or two particular standouts – and this lapse in recall presents a serious challenge for today’s marketers.

How do marketers capture attention? How do brands break through the clutter? There’s one potential solution in high impact digital advertising – and when done correctly, it has the potential to drive higher consumer response rates than standard display ads. Research shows that high impact ads have 40 per cent higher overall likability than standard display and are 78 per cent more likely than standard display ads to make a consumer want to learn more about a product/brand (Undertone Ipsos ASI Joint Research Project). However, the current state of the industry is making it harder for marketers to understand and adopt this valuable tool.

To unravel the problem, we should start at the beginning: what does it mean for an ad to be high impact? In short, high impact digital adverts are non-standard, scalable, large canvas ad formats with rich media features. Creativity is at the core of these formats – they are able to capture a consumer’s attention, build an emotional connection and drive engagement. Their success depends on a number of factors. They must:

  • Engage with viewers, across multiple screens;
  • Be delivered on certified inventory to ensure they do not break websites;
  • Have a light file size to ensure they do not interfere with a webpage’s loading time;
  • Include a high level of universal frequency capping;
  • Have real time performance analytics to inform the optimization of the campaign.

However, the biggest reason why high impact advertising is hitting the big time is because it has a huge creative potential. Brands can get across the purest form of their message through exciting creative – creative that makes the eyes widen and that actively encourages the audience to find out more. And sometimes, it’s easy to forget about that – there’s a big push in the advertising world around data and the power of programmatic. But high impact allows brands and businesses to take the plunge with something that’ll capture the imagination.

Brands of all kinds have made great use of the increased canvas size and interactive options to produce some new and exciting ad experiences for their audiences. For example, at Undertone, we’ve worked with major auto brands that have incorporated 360⁰ views of car interiors, giving consumers a realistic glimpse of their potential new car – we’ve also worked with FMCG companies on adverts that encourage users to interact directly with content either by shaking or tilting their device.

Unfortunately, high impact formats aren’t properly differentiated from what’s already out there in the wider industry and as it currently stands, brands aren’t sure which formats will work best for them right now. To address that uncertainty, ad providers should be working harder to clarify their offering. The industry reputation could well be at risk, if providers, publishers and brands aren’t willing to communicate transparently about the risks and opportunities for these new formats. In the worst case, an inappropriate ad format could spoil the audience experience, creating yet another example of why ad blockers were installed in the first place.

Marketers must also understand not only the metrics aligned to high impact formats – such as engagement rate, dwell time, brand hours, etc. - but also which of these best match the desired outcome for their campaign. Provider-to-publisher set up is also an important point: look for providers that can guarantee their formats will deliver the same high quality execution on each impression, rather than wasting precious budget on campaigns which aren’t fully optimized.

It’s clear that this type of format heralds a new wave of opportunities in the digital marketing industry, but we need to establish rules and play by them, enabling marketers to experiment and reinvest in new formats. If we can build confidence in the industry through transparency and standardization, high impact advertising will enable marketers, providers and consumers to share in an enhanced digital landscape.

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