Luxury brands have different needs than mass brands do. Even for affluent consumers, there’s a longer decision cycle for a pair of Prada loafers versus a pair of Weejuns, and for a Tag Heuer versus a Timex. Marketers familiar with the space know that they need to be more persuasive with their campaigns, and richer and more impactful with their ads. Luxury brands need to tell stories of quality and of lifestyles full of aspiration to convince consumers they’re worth the additional money.
Portrait ads make it easier for brands to tell those stories. The oversized, three-module units create rich-media canvases for brands to share HD video, audio, images, social media and other interactive elements. Many leading publishers are successfully creating native opportunities for advertisers by incorporating their own site content into one of the modules. The adjacency of premium publisher content to the advertiser’s own content is mutually beneficial and creates an effective, engaging ad unit that feels as if it’s part of the website. While the publisher content within the unit does not truly constitute an editorial endorsement of the advertiser’s product, it does serve to instill the consumer with a sense of trust for the brand advertised.
We know that the Portrait ad works, particularly for luxury brands. While the IAB’s Rising Stars are slower to catch on than the industry hoped, they are steadily gaining traction. As viewability issues and low engagement rates with banners and other less dynamic formats continue to frustrate publishers and advertisers, the Rising Stars become more and more appealing. However, one issue that’s hindering broader adoption is cost. Portrait ads definitely cost more to produce than banners and buttons, and they cost more to place, as well. The oversized units take more space on the page and tend to only appear on premium publishers sites. That means advertising with Rising Stars is going to require a much more significant investment than a typical media buy.
However, there’s a change emerging in the marketplace. Since the Rising Stars are IAB Standard ad units, they can be sold programmatically. With that in mind, there is no reason why these ads couldn’t be sold via networks and exchanges. And that is what is beginning to happen: Forward-thinking companies that see the potential for this kind of premium marketplace are joining together to make it a reality.
This is good news for luxury brands, which have historically shied away from programmatic buying. A premium programmatic exchange will allow brands to invest in rich media advertising at scale, while addressing many of the concerns that previously kept them at bay. Exchanges of this nature are invitation-only, so only inventory from the most exclusive publishers will be available. That can allay most concerns around brand safety and fraud. Leading technology partners would ensure data-driven targeting and analytics, so advertisers can ensure that they’re reaching the right audience and engaging them, and then optimize as necessary. And use of the Rising Stars in these exchanges supports viewability, since the ad units were designed with this metric in mind.
Shenan Reed, founder of Morpheus Media, was recently quoted in an article by Skip Brand in MediaPost. She referenced a recent study by Undertone Networks that revealed that awareness of the IAB Rising Stars was shockingly low. “If less than a third of brand marketers in the online advertising industry don’t know what these units are, it just means we’ve continued to force ourselves into mediocrity,” she said. “Helping build industry awareness and move the industry forward by doing away with banner blindness through use of the Rising Star units -- that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”
I feel the same way. Rising Stars are a powerful vehicle for brand advertisers, particularly in the luxury space. They represent a tremendous opportunity for brands to tell their story in an eloquent and impactful way. An introduction of premium exchanges will allow brand advertisers to begin to do this at scale, reaching larger, targeted audiences with brilliant rich media ads. It’s a shift in the right direction for the industry, and if we really want to see more brands advertising online, it’s an effort we should all get behind. Then we’ll all be doing something right.