Roughly one third of display advertising impressions go unseen, according to recent data from comScore. Those ads that may technically be viewable are subject to the ongoing ‘banner blindness’ epidemic, with viewers literally tuning out or otherwise ignoring altogether the many ads online vying for their attention in an already crowded digital landscape.
While influential groups such as the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) – a collaborative initiative between the IAB, ANA and the 4A’s – advocates for a viewable impression standard, the burgeoning field of in-image advertising is already delivering on its promise.
Publishers welcome the new revenue stream and consumers seem equally accepting of having relevant ads overlaid on photos. One of our publisher partners recently surveyed its visitors about attitudes toward the new format and found consumers actually inviting of the experience. One respondent noted, “I didn’t know it was an ad, but when I realized it was I didn’t care because it had everything to do with something I was interested in.”
Still, the emerging in-image advertising format must live up to marketers’ expectations in order for it to thrive. Here are five reasons why in-image ads are resonating with advertisers:
1) Viewability – Image-based ads get noticed because they appear in-line with editorial content where consumers are actively engaged, in most cases appearing above the fold. Since the overlay ads only serve when a photo is within the browser’s viewable window, 100 percent of ads get seen, making the industry debate over creating a standard for viewable impressions a welcomed one for in-image providers. And, because image-based ads on a page are typically delivered by a single provider, advertisers always have access the first-impression call.
2) Relevance – Advancements in image recognition technology combined with a contextual understanding of the page and the ability to target ads accordingly are what make image-based advertising so powerful. Knowing with a high degree of certainty what an image is about, and the context in which it appears, creates relevance that surprises and delights consumers as they discover more layers of information relating to something they care about.
3) Selectiveness – Unlike the traditional display paradigm, where an ad must be shown to avoid having a gaping hole in the layout of a page, the decision not to serve an image-based doesn’t change the nature of the content upon which it appears. In addition, both publishers and advertisers have frequency capping controls and users have the option to close the ad. The combined result is a polite experience that doesn’t offend consumers, and may actually be welcomed by some.
4) Versatility – Unlike banner ads, that are tied into a complex ad serving systems that limit rich media functionality, image-based advertising can lead users to additional information about the photo they are viewing. This can be in the form of buying the item displayed on a photo, or upon engagement with the creative, can lead users to additional layers of content, such as a video light-box format that allows them to experience a brand message without ever leaving the page.
5) Engagement – If what matters most is consumer engagement, in-image advertising holds great promise. A campaign targeting images of the Olympic games generated a .4% CTR on the rich media creative and a 1.2% CTR on sharing the ensuing video. The format also holds up to brand metrics, with nearly a 23 percent lift in awareness according to one component of an ad effectiveness study for a recent entertainment campaign.
As in-image advertising continues to grow in popularity, expect to discover even more ways it can be used to surprise consumers while meeting the awareness and brand objectives of advertisers. For now, there seem to be a lot of reasons for advertisers to be excited about, and those who have embraced in-image advertising are already reaping its rewards.