Pop quiz: What are the most effective ads?
Answer: The ones that get seen.
As awareness of ad fraud and viewability issues in the display world increase, advertisers and the publishers and agencies that serve them are looking for solutions to ensure their ad budget dollars are not only delivering effective ads to their audience, but that their audience is actually seeing the ads they’ve worked so hard to put together.
Responsive ads are quickly rising to the forefront of advertiser solutions, and with good reason. They’re helping brands make the most of their resources, while expanding reach. But before we dive into what makes responsive ads so powerful, let’s tackle an important question.
Why are brands having such a hard time building effective ads?
There are few problems facing advertisers in the display ad space today.
- Too many ad sizes and types
That new wearable-techno-gadget-doodad may cause consumers to swoon, but for digital marketers around the world, each new ‘disruptive innovation’ means they need to learn and adapt to a different working landscape on a weekly basis. While organizations like the IAB are working hard to consistently update standards for advertisers and the vendors that serve them, the numbers of screens, devices, content channels and publisher options continue to grow, making standardized ad guidelines difficult to build, make sense of or follow.
- Keeping up is resource-intensive
Tied in with problem #1 is the issue of resources. While it’s possible to build all the right variations of your display ads for every destination screen and platform, let’s be honest: that sucks up valuable time and money. Project management, creative development, technical development, reviews, approvals, testing – each to-do diverts resources from your next campaign or other team projects. Not to mention, since the technological developments keep marching onto the scene with increasing frequency, advertisers and Digital Creative Production teams are constantly in learning and testing mode. While the agility can be character and career building, it means that to a certain extent, everyone is a novice. The lack of hands-on expertise can result in costly trial-and-error for the entire team.
- Consumers want a great experience
It may seem like a strange problem, but for advertisers scrambling to keep up with a proliferation of screen sizes and content platforms, the expectations of the people they most want to reach does throw a monkey wrench into the works. It’s tough enough to build out ads that render correctly across countless screens and platforms. But advertisers can’t just think about the functionality of their ads – proper sizing, media specs, asset packaging, etc. They need to consider their target audience’s experience. Does the ad match the platform it’s being delivered on? Is it presenting at an appropriate time? Is it relevant?
The good news is that, just as quickly as new technologies are cropping up to complicate advertisers’ already-complex processes, new (and existing) solutions are rising to meet the challenge, ensuring that advertisers continue to develop the most effective ads for their campaign goals.
One of those solutions: responsive ads.
What are responsive ads?
Responsive ads are the chameleons and shape shifters of the display ad world, thanks to the HTML5 ads they’re built with. Just like their close relative, responsive websites, they instantly adapt to fit practically any available ad space. That includes adjusting their size, appearance and even format to adapt to the screen, platform or device at hand. Responsive ads are technically their own, self-contained websites.
It’s important to note that responsive ads aren’t the same thing as dynamic ads, which use browsing data, location, weather and more to deliver personalized ads to the end user. However, the two technologies can be paired to build a powerful campaign. More on that in a minute.
After Google announced the addition of responsive ads to their Google Display Network at the Google Performance Summit in May 2016 (an update that included phasing out standard text ads as of January 31, 2017), there are technically two types of responsive ads to be aware of:
- Google Display Network Responsive Ads: Google’s responsive ads have all the functionalities mentioned above, with one little caveat: advertisers are limited in their creative control and testing capabilities. Uploaded images and descriptions are displayed based on what Google deems appropriate. And for brands that want to analyze performance by assessing the metrics for each ad size, that capability isn’t available anymore. These responsive ads are ideal for brands with little to no resources for design or account management.
- Custom Responsive Ads: The sky’s the limit with custom responsive ads, typically developed by a digital production agency. Brands have complete control over all the creative direction and elements – images, messaging, design – and these ads can be platform agnostic or specific. for Mobile ad banners They can use Google Analytics, third-party tools or tracking pixels to track impressions, clicks, referring sites and more.
Responsive ads make the most of your resources and reach
Now that we’re clear on what responsive ads are, let’s take a closer look at why they’re such a powerful tool for advertisers.
- Expand your reach and impact
One of the biggest bonuses of responsive ads is the new territory they open up for advertisers. Because your ads can adapt to practically any environment, they can be placed on platforms and content channels which may not have been accessible before, at least not without tedious manual coding or numerous banner variations.
* BONUS: Tap into the power of dynamic ads for even greater reach and impact
Dynamic ads enable brands to tap into valuable user data – location, weather, browsing behavior – and automatically deliver personalized ads, based on that information. When you pair the reach and flexibility of responsive ads with the power of personalized dynamic ads, you end up with some of the most effective ads known to display advertising: ads that are tailored to each member of your target audience and can reach them anytime, no matter what screen they’re on.
- Save time and money
It’s time consuming and expensive to build out multiple variations of different ads, run them through approvals and quality assurance, and then upload everything to your respective platforms. Responsive ads aren’t just more effective ads – they’re faster and more cost-effective to build out upfront. When you take into consideration the improved reach and viewability – more of your ads are reaching more people, leading to better brand awareness – the savings continue to add up.
- Improve your audience’s user experience
No matter how they’re consuming their content, your audience doesn’t want to be interrupted by ill-fitting ads. They want to be intrigued, entertained, enticed and compelled. Responsive ads do exactly that, by adapting to the target destination and screen and blending with or enhancing the user experience, instead of disrupting it. Add in the personalization of dynamic ads, and you have highly effective ads your audience will welcome.
Effective ads are responsive ads
The display advertising landscape is going to continue changing at a breakneck pace. Forward-thinking brands that want to stay relevant and ahead of the curve without zapping their resources or team members’ time and energy will increasingly build their most effective campaigns on responsive and dynamic ads.
Who knows – with the advancements in machine learning and AI, ads might start building themselves soon. If that happens, we’ll be the first ones to tell you all about it.
Ready to build an effective, responsive ad campaign? Drop us a line!