‘Sustainability’ is something we talk about a lot as a company. Of course we would, we’re in the digital advertising business, we’re invested in the industry and its long term success is clearly to Coull’s benefit.
However, no-one is quite sure what the future of digital advertising will look like, with issues like viewability and the challenge posed to multichannel-marketers by the proliferation of devices and shifting consumer behaviors.
Those are structural issues and are slowly being addressed by the industry through technical innovation and movement towards widespread adoption of standards. What will also need to be overcome, sooner rather than later, are the perceptions of digital advertising. And that’s what I’ve chosen to look at here. What common perceptions are held regarding digital advertising by three groups most invested in it: Advertisers, publishers and consumers.
Perception: It’s unreliable.
Why? Here we are at a time when marketers have never had such a surfeit of information at their fingertips, and yet doubts concerning quality of inventory, effectiveness in driving ROI and visibility are commonplace.
We’ve gone beyond the point where digital is perceived as the poor cousin of traditional channels, but if primetime TV is the straight As, golden child of the advertising household, digital is still the scruffy haired son who occasionally draws a sigh of disappointment.
Doubt will linger until marketers can plan campaigns against consistent metrics across multiple platforms and have clear visibility of the inventory they are buying.
Perception: It’s unsustainable
Why? It just isn’t making enough money… Digital advertising is going through a rapid period of innovation right now, and for publishers it can’t come quickly enough. Forced to transition from print to digital to keep up with consumer demand, monetizing online just isn’t as easy, especially as mobile takes up an ever increasing share of consumer browsing time.
This perception (and to be fair, it’s more than a perception, it’s the reality) has led publishers to search out innovative new ways of generating revenue. Safeguarding digital entities and setting them up for a profitable future relies on it.
Perception: It’s annoying
Why? There’s two types of advertising. Valuable and non-valuable. Valuable advertising is useful, it adds something to the recipient’s day. Be it a smile, a helpful hand, a grain of wisdom - the consumer gets some value from it.
Unfortunately, that’s not most digital advertising. The majority of digital ads either interrupt a consumer’s experience or distract them. Videos autoplaying somewhere out of sight, banners flashing from the virtual sidewalks like a discount dollarstore’s facade.
Consumers have become jaded and learned to tune out distractions. However, content isn’t free, it needs to be paid for somehow. Consumers need to accept that, but they shouldn’t have to accept mediocre experiences.
If the advertising industry can address structural problems around viewability and consistent standards, and publishers and advertisers adopt innovative new advertising formats, there’s no reason all three perceptions can’t be turned on their head.