The world of advertising is not as straightforward as it may seem. From the very first display ad to the ever-changing ad formats – to the untrained marketer, it looks as though the latest options are the best. However, experience tells otherwise. Touted to be the jazziest and nimblest of all display advertising formats, HTML5 has gained popularity as the most versatile display ad format. While there are obvious benefits to HTML5 ads, is it really the best option for every business or every marketing campaign? Let us take a deeper look.
Display Advertising in a Nutshell
Before we delve into HTML5 ads, let us understand what display advertising entails. A term that has become popular after the dot com boom, display ads refer to the advertisement banners on any online platform. From websites to social media pages and apps, display advertising is used by marketers everywhere to make the most of available inventory.
The more premium the inventory, the more it is in demand and the higher fee can it command. On the part of the advertiser though, equal effort goes into designing marketing campaigns for premium and remnant inventories. If not automated, designing these ads can prove to be very time consuming, tedious and expensive.
Various Flavours of Display Ads
The world might be screaming HTML5 ads, but you need to know that there are so many other display advertisement types and strategies that have the potential to make your marketing campaign a success. It is never wise to put all your eggs in one basket. This holds true for display ad formats as well. Glance through the options available to you:
Display Text Ads
In the era of graphics and videos, do not make the mistake of thinking that plain old text is obsolete. Text ads strangely do very well when it comes to CTR (click-through rate) as they appear quite naturally in the search results of any type of search engine-based website or app. Google Search, Bing Search and keyword inserts in blog posts are classic examples where sponsored display texts do well, urging the user to visit the link or consider it as an option.
Text ads are one of the lightest tools on the internet, with almost no extra “weight” added, so the page load time does not change. Also, since the hyperlinks are pre-added in the case of news articles or blog posts, there is no need for complicated algorithms that fetch data dynamically. Only in the case of online search ads, the keywords must be tagged to the text ads that must show up when any person searches for those keywords on the search engine platform.
Static Image Banner Ads
One of the earliest forms of display advertising, image advertisements are exactly as the name suggests. These are static banners that can be placed on any designated part of a website or mobile app, such as the header, footer, between paragraphs, on the sidebars, etc. Since they are only clickable images, the CTA (call-to-action) must be encapsulated in the single image. The image though, can contain a juxtaposition of text and photos or even just text or an illustration.
Image ads are visible more attractive than text-only ads, offering more incentive to the viewer to see/read/click on it. However, they are restricted in where you can place them, as inventories are limited for any publisher and structured formats mean that readers can easily gloss over sections such as footers and sidebars. Headers and spaces between paragraphs do much better when it comes to image ad placement, almost forcing the visitor to look, if not click. Image banners are great for brand awareness campaigns, which do not necessarily need a click for conversion. Clicks still help in tracking how well your marketing campaign is doing, though.
A relatively new trend with email service providers such as Gmail is the email advertisement format. Unlike the simultaneously used HTML5 ads on the header or sidebar, email ads look just like emails, whether you check your mailbox on the app or the webpage. When they were launched initially, their CTR was off the charts, since most people scarcely noticed the “Ad” tag next to the sender image.
Email ads must be used very carefully, and worded with even more caution, since they are often considered spam. However, unlike regular emails, these can’t be marked as spam. Besides, you are able to land straight on your potential customers’ mailbox without even them having to sign up with you!
GIF Banner Ads
Often considered a more eye-catching alternative to plane-Jane image ads, gif advertisements have the ability to use the same ad space to convey a longer message or simply, tell the same message with more swag. Gifs, short for graphics interchange format, are a collection of static images that keep transitioning smoothly into an animation to tell a story. Creatively used, gifs can catch more eyeballs than even HTML5 ads – they have the added benefits of reliability, browser-agnostic delivery, and high performance.
Apart from being non-static and attractive, gifs are also quite lightweight (though weightier than static images) and delightfully simple to create. One does not need a tech-savvy design team to line up one’s gif ad content. Simple apps let you transform static images into lively animations. With the ability to be compressed, they make good use of server space, not to forget the absence of sound makes the storage formats simpler to maintain.
HTML5 & Rich Media Ads
The latest display ad format that is the talk of the town is HTML5. Named after the 5th generation of HTML used by designers and developers alike, HTML5 is a rich media advertisement format that allows advertisers the flexibility to use text, images, videos and other interactive formats in a single ad space on an app or website.
Video ads, while sometimes a part of rich media advertisement, can be independent ads in themselves. Most commonly seen on video platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Videos, video ads are short video clips that promote a product, service or a message. They are no different from advertorials on the television, except that they may sometimes be skipped after the mandatory minutes or muted altogether.
Video ads are the most effective when you have a complex message that cannot simply be stated in words, pictures or animation. With the ability to have texts, vivid imagery, free-flowing motion clips and an audio component, video ads have the potential to cut through any physical barrier in terms of watchers with hearing impairments or listeners who are visually challenged. Video ads also transcend the emotionless digital feel with their humane make-believe world, tugging at the heartstrings of the viewers like no other ad format can.
Other Display Ad Formats
The display advertisement modes listed above are not exhaustive. There are several more, each with its own unique scope and appeal. Flash of yore is dying a slow death, but there are others that although not as hyped as HTML5, are still quite valuable. Google Lightbox ads are pathbreaking in how they allow their watchers to even play games as they interact with the ad. Ads can also be categorized into dynamic remarketing ads which target the viewer of any particular keyword on other platforms they browse such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.
HTML5 ads may be a crowd-puller, but there are several other display ad formats that not only garner views but also ensure conversions over time. Remember that it is ultimately your brand and your product that one must remember, not just the jazziness of your ad. For a fool-proof marketing campaign, optimize your inventory options with a mix of various types of ads such as image, gif banners, videos, text placements and also rich media formats. This is certainly more cost effective than the complex codes that go behind individual HTML5 ads!