Will Technology Save Banners? Not at the Top of the Funnel

|Juan Martinez

Today on Adweek, Charlie Warzel posted an excellent piece on the future of banner ads and whether or not projects like the IAB’s Rising Star rich media units can help save them. While many of the sources quoted in the piece believe technological innovation can help improve banners, several sources argued that the natural limitations of banner ads will always keep results modest.

Jennifer Creegan, general manager of display advertising experiences for Microsoft, tells Adweek that her company has run more than 200 Rising Stars campaigns “resulting in significant brand perception and recall lifts compared to standard display.”

Creegan, as well as others quoted in the piece, such as Greg Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Pictela, believe banner ads are in a transformational stage and new technologies could help refuel the fading industry. However, several of the article’s sources argue that the limitations of banner ads won’t necessarily be resolved with technological innovation.

Tom O’Regan, chief revenue officer at Martini Media, says Rising Stars work when they’re targeted to particular audiences but “one of the problems with Rising Stars is that some of the companies that launched the ad units have less engaged audiences…If you are a portal that does huge traffic and has mass reach, your audience is more transient…than premium content that he or she is passionate about.”

Gilad De Vries, Outbrain’s VP of Brands and Agencies, is quoted as saying: ““Display is a valued medium for some messages but not always necessarily great for building brands,” he said. “The focus of marketers needs to be about making sure the message is not interruptive to the experience and relevant.”

At Outbrain, we’ve always championed digital innovation as a means of bringing great content to consumers. But we’ve also been realistic in our assessment that display doesn’t work at the top of the marketing funnel. Instead, brands should use content discovery as a way to promote earned media and content marketing to consumers in order to introduce them to the brand’s fundamental value proposition. A simple banner with a vague call-to-action won’t drive consumers to your website. But a great review, blog post, video or white paper that clearly articulates your brand’s value will easily help turn readers and viewers into loyal brand enthusiasts.

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Juan Martinez

Juan is the Content Strategy Manager at Outbrain. He is responsible for determining the overall tone and editorial direction of... Read more

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