Adams & Knight Marketing Blog
POSTED BY: Pat Dugan

You’re doing online displays all wrong


Seeking better returns from your digital advertising spend?

You might try rethinking your strategy for online displays ads.

Yes, you read correctly. Online. Display. Ads.

Sure, most people find them completely “intolerable” and “intrusive.” Yet the oldest online ad format is still growing. In fact, industry sources say the banner ad display format is expected to grow 7% this year.

That’s likely because if backed by the right strategy, digital displays can still be a relevant form of advertising and more importantly, help you reach target audiences at the right time, with the right messages.

However, you’ve got to take into account a few factors. Number one. People have shorter attention spans. Eight seconds to be exact. (Source: Microsoft 2015) And two. There are many more online ads competing for your targets’ attention. In fact, the American Marketing Association recently pinned the number at about 10,000 per day.

So rethinking how you approach producing your next online display ads is critical to getting the return and results you can expect. Try these tips:

Think of display ads as digital billboards. Hard to miss. Easy to recall. Digital billboards you see on the road are today are generally timed at about eight seconds before the next one comes up. So you must, must, must get your main message or point across in one single glance. Same is true for online.

Say it in 10 words—max. The rule of thumb is to make it quick. On the road, you’ve got eight seconds to make your point with a digital billboard. But for online displays, it can be even shorter. So count the number of words you are using in the ad. If it’s more than 10, scrap it and start over. If it’s less than 10, see if you can use even fewer. The point is: less is best.

Don’t think in “stages.” Why? Because stages take time. With the average view time for an online display ad at only about 9 seconds, you can no longer afford to build each frame of a digital display according to the model first you see this, next you see that, and finally you see the reveal.

Instead, think about creating future displays along this line: If it comes up, it stays up.  This way consumers see your entire message and don’t miss anything. Like our team did with this recent display ad:

Grab attention. A video display ad viewed on desktop garners 36 percent more viewing time than the average desktop display ad. So use motion and animation to really get your viewers’ attention, enhance your message and make sure it’s memorable. Consider incorporating behind-the-scenes footage, for example, to show something unexpected. (Just remember to keep the action to about five seconds.)

Doesn’t matter the format, medium or channel, good advertising is always strategic, memorable and on target. Online display ads included.


Pat Dugan
Executive Creative Director
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