OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 01/14/2013 By Mark Glaser

Can the banner ad evolve?

“I’m not dead yet!” is the funny line from a man being dragged away as dead in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” That might also be what display ads are trying to say, as many people are writing their obituaries just as they are evolving into something better. As 2012 closed, several industry experts hinted that it may have been the year the banner ad died. Native advertising, advertorial and sponsored content are trendy, and as mobile ads rise, the banner ad is increasingly put on death watch. Brian Wong, the CEO and co-founder of the mobile app rewards network Kiip wrote this in a recent op-ed on the Huffington Post, “In mobile advertising’s short history, we’ve developed such an adversarial relationship with banner ads that we’re a), ignoring mobile ads entirely, b), getting pissed off and/or c), paying to get rid of them.”

But what if the banner ad isn’t dead? What if it just needs some help evolving? A new report out from Macquarie Securities analyzing home page ad trends shows that in 4Q 2012, display advertising actually improved over the previous period and over the same period in 2011 as well. And home page ads are getting bigger: Macquarie found that 56 percent of home page ads on Yahoo, AOL, MSN and YouTube were oversized/custom units. That’s up from 45 percent in the third quarter and 43 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. It’s becoming all about customization. Take for instance ESPN’s bold new experiment with a dynamic wallpaper banner ad. The experiment, unveiled in early January, allowed readers to select a wallpaper based on which team they think would win an upcoming big college football game. IKEA, notes Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman, is also experimenting with something similar – a scrollable banner ad that lets shoppers zoom in on one of 2,800 items. And Gucci tried banner ads that with a click turned into a Pinterest pin. Fiegerman writes, “This isn’t likely to stop the overall shift away from banner ads, but these efforts show there is still room for innovation.”