Five digital advertising trends to watch

Certainly it makes sense that digital media would have appeal to advertisers. After all, interactive media keeps readers engaged more deeply and longer in the pages of the publication, and offers the possibility of an instant, interactive connection between the reader and the advertisers. In addition, advertisers can specifically target their audience, include videos and other digital experiences, expand their reach globally, and track impressions and clicks, all features that aren’t available in print advertising.

We are pleased to see that things seem to have turned a corner for digital advertising. Here are some interesting stats we found:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reports that according to their bi-annual report conducted by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Internet advertising revenues rose 15 per cent to a total of US$11.7bn between June 30, 2013 and the same time in 2014.

The same report shows that there’s particularly strong growth in social media across all devices, for a total of $2.9bn in the same period.

Magna Global reports that with a 27 per cent market share in 2013, digital media is now bigger than national TV, though still significantly smaller than television as a whole (TV commands 40 per cent market share).

The report adds that digital media advertising sales are expected to ultimately surpass total television by 2018. Print advertising will continue to decrease by approximately 7 per cent.

So, that’s pretty good, to put it mildly. And we’ve found even more evidence to back up the view that information consumption on mobile is gaining acceptance (see this study, this study, and this study for example. And that’s good news because more and more consumers have access to those devices and even older, non-digital natives are turning to mobile devices.

Five digital advertising trends to watch

1. Native 

‘Native’ advertising – aka advertorials or ‘sponsored’ content – are the most talked-about topic in advertising land. After all, it delivers soft-sell advertising that’s integrated into the content experience, such as aligned sponsored video ads within your content, or endorsements of your content by a related advertiser.

However you feel about it, native advertising offers a huge boost to revenues for publishers who only last year were mumbling to themselves about ‘digital dimes’. As early as January 2014, a J.P. Morgan report that native ads represented just five per cent to 10 per cent of Facebook’s impressions in 2013, but accounted for more than 60 per cent of the company’s revenue.

Why is that? As Sharethrough found in a study it performed, consumers looked at native ads 53 per cent more frequently than display ads, and native ads registered 18 per cent higher lift in purchase intent and nine per cent lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads. That’s a valuable property publishers have to sell, so it’s no wonder that such ads drive higher revenues than boring old banner ads.

2. Video 

According to Nielsen there has been a year over year overall growth in digital use of 16 per cent among people age 18-34, with 53 per cent growth in digital video viewing. And Nielsen says this growth is even more marked among 35-49 year olds and 50-64 year olds.

That sure sounds like an opportunity to me. What’s more, Business Insider reports that online video is growing faster than most other advertising formats and mediums. Video ad revenue will increase at a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5 per cent through 2016, according to BI.

Video ads are clearly here to stay, and you’d be an unwise publisher to ignore its revenue potential.

3. Mobile

With so many more mobile devices in the hands of consumers – and with bigger and better screens, too – publishers are starting to warm up to what was once considered the poor cousin of native and video advertising. Yes, the lack of cookies to track a user’s wants and needs is a drawback, as is the short attention span that mobile device users are presumed to have.

4. Responsive creative

With all of this newfangled advertising coming of age, it can be a challenge for publishers with limited sales resources to keep up with it. That’s why we’re still fond of responsive advertising, which allows you to sell one ad that works on all the different platforms you publish on.

The IAB explains that Responsive Creative Design refers to an automated ad server process of optimising the look and fit of an ad creative to the ad opportunity/ screen/ inventory available. 

RCD can also mean not just “responsive to the screen” but also “responsive to the capabilities of the device,” so an ad built using RCD might be shake-able on a smartphone, but mouse-over-able on a PC.

Last year, Twitter reported that in doing this, it sometimes generates more revenue from mobile device ads than from desktop ones. That’s an encouraging sign, and IAB offers s lot of free guidance for those who might want to follow in Twitter’s footsteps in its white paper, Responsive Design and Ad Creative: An IAB Perspective.

5. AAM’s Consolidated Media Report and Rapid Report tool

One of the biggest problems for digital ad sellers and buyers thus far has been the random nature of the data. As Ethan Grey, MPA’s SVP of Digital Strategy and Initiatives, explains it, “Digital editions are like having every international plug in front of you—they’re all different. Every electrical outlet works exactly as designed, and all deliver power, but they’re incompatible. The exact same ad will deliver completely different data sets. They’re not apples to apples.”

To meet this challenge, in 2013 MPA launched its Digital Editions Standardisation Initiative (DESI), in which measurement of four specific metrics was built into Adobe’s widely-used Digital Publishing Suite. That data can then be audited and included in the Alliance for Audited Media database, where ad buyers frequently perform their due diligence about your digital magazine.

If you can report on these universal metrics to your advertisers, you have a much more appealing product to sell, and you can set ad rates accordingly.

Additionally, AAM also responded to increasing demands from ad buyers for usable metrics in the digital age. Its year-old Consolidated Media Report takes independently audited data for all of a publisher’s channels, combines it with graphics and charts, and delivers a user-friendly report perfect for media kits and sure to excite your ad sales team with its dynamic presentation. 

These initiatives are key to reassuring ad buyers that your digital magazine brands are valuable commodities where they should be placing their native, video and mobile ads. 

Ed Coburn is a senior VP and lead consultant at the Mequoda Group 

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