Why is HTML5 the preferred display advertising format?
A brief history: Flash, static and HTML5 banners explained
Static banners are the granddaddy of all display advertising, and are non-interactive display ads. Static banners are either .jpg, .pngs or.gif files.
Once, there was also Flash. It offered flexibility in terms of design and interactivity. However, security vulnerabilities, and the fact it required a browser plugin, saw big tech industry players drop support for it.
Finally, in June 2016 Google stopped supporting Flash banner ads and it ceased to be a valid format. Instead another format, HTML5, was crowned the number one advertising format for display advertising – with static ads remaining as the dull older brother.
What is a HTML5 banner ad?
Put simply, a HTML5 banner is an ad that uses the same coding language used to design and control webpages. It applies the latest update of Hypertext Markup Language. HTML5 banners are therefore coded and updatable – and interactive – unlike static banners.
They are also ideal for publishing to multiple ad networks, and offer advanced display marketers the ability to track clicks, as well as upload live data. Thanks to its superiority as a coding language, HTML5 is the default option for creating and controlling display campaigns.
How is display advertising published?
Publishing display advertising can be both simple and extremely complicated. The truth is it is well worth researching media buying strategies to find what best suits your marketing team’s needs.
Below are four basic forms of display advertising publishing that you need to know:
What is a display ad network?
A display ad network is the best way of reaching the publishers, or websites, you wish to advertise on.
Ad networks act as brokers, buying unsold ad inventory (ad spaces) – packaging websites together based on target audiences – and then selling these to advertisers.
However, be careful selecting an ad network. While, some ad networks are very selective about the type and quality of publishers allowed in the network, others are decidedly less so.
What is an ad exchange?
An ad exchange acts as a trading floor where a display advertisers can buy ad inventory from multiple ad networks.
Through this stock exchange-like environment, a display advertiser can target a specific audience, when they want, at the lowest possible price for across the web.
AppNexus and Google Marketing Platform are just two examples of ad exchanges.
What is programmatic buying?
Programmatic display advertising is a way to automatically buy and optimise digital campaigns across ad exchanges. Rather than buying directly from publishers, you use artificial intelligence (AI) to make buying decisions for you.
Ad inventory buying takes place in milli-seconds – think how long a webpage takes to load. Therefore, it makes sense to replace human negotiations with machine learning and AI-optimisation.
Programmatic buying allows marketers, who produce large quantities of advertising, to deliver more effective and measurable display ads – at scale. Growing in popularity, programmatic display advertising is set to become the default ad inventory buying and publishing option.
How do you publish with a creative management platform (CMP)?
A CMP, such as Bannerflow, allows advertisers to publish banners programmatically to a network or exchange of their choice. It really is as simple as pressing a button.
When publishing, each banner has its own unique ‘click tag’. A click tag is a URL that you provide to publishers in order for your banners to be shown.
Note: For more advanced display campaigns, many more steps may be required. For instance: retargeting, scheduling campaigns, or producing sequences of ads for dynamic creative optimisation (DCO).
What are the 4 key features of successful display campaigns?
Successful display advertising is far easier than many marketers realise.
In this chapter, we focus on four features to consider when producing high performing display advertising, including:
- Using rich media to animate and engage
- Driving clicks with video
- Optimising campaigns for mobile devices
- Connecting live data fees to your display ads
1. Using rich media to animate and engage
Rich media helps marketers engage consumers. Essentially, it unleashes the full potential of HTML5 and is a technology that marketers should use across all their display campaigns.
What are rich media ads?
Rich media refers to display advertising that includes features like video, audio, or other creative elements, which encourage viewers to interact and engage with your display ads.
It also works as a good alternative to video, as HTML5 animations are simple to build and smaller in file size. This is because HTML5 rich media ads are coded, and thus optimisable.
Why use rich media in display advertising?
Using rich media is a good way for your ads to stand out, as they are proven to grab viewer attention. Research from eMarketer shows that companies experience higher levels of engagement (16.2%) using rich media ads compared to static banners.
And the best thing: building rich media ads is straightforward if you have access to a CMP. These automatically code rich media ads, removing the need of a specialist developer and make them accessible to all types of marketer – not just the large agencies.
Best practice tip:
- A criticism of rich media banners is that sometimes the “weight”, or the size of the ad’s file is too large. Poorly designed rich media ads do reduce performance; slowing down pages or obscuring content. Display adverts using rich media should be optimised to IAB’s LEAN standards.
2. Driving clicks with video
Adding a video to a display ad can naturally catch a consumer’s attention more than static images and can create continuity from campaigns on social or TV.
What is in-banner video?
In-banner video is a video clip that exists within a display ad. It uses the space provided for an HTML5 banner ad to deliver a video that is either part of a HTML5 animation or provides the viewer with the choice to click-through to a full video.
Why use video?
Viewers prefer video ads over plain static ads. In fact, in-banner video ads perform 18.4% better than static banner ads in click-through rate.
Georg Jensen’s Head of Brand and Content, Kasper Sierslev, discovered that video was an effective tool for driving engagement. “…with video, we found that our campaigns performed six times better than static ads.”
Another reason for the use of video banners is user experience. In-banner video has evolved into a respectful advertising experience. If a user doesn’t want to engage with the video ad, they scroll past it. If they do want to engage, they interact with it. Well-crafted video banners provide the viewer with a positive choice.
Best practice tips:
- In-banner video can help marketers produce successful display ads in other ways too. For example, videos can be used as backgrounds for product ads.
- While, banners can also be exported as MP4 files to be used within digital out-of-home (DOOH) or social media campaigns.
3. Optimising campaigns for mobile devices
Optimising and tailoring display advertising for mobile should always be a priority. Successful display campaigns work across devices and are scheduled to take advantage of changing consumer habits. For instance, increasing mobile ad spend on weekends.
What are mobile display ads?
Mobile display ads are banners that are optimised for mobile devices. They are specific sizes of responsive HTML5 banner ads that feature copy, creative elements and images tailored for mobile interactions with consumers.
Why optimise campaigns for mobile devices?
Use of mobile devices is growing year-on-year. Therefore, using responsive display ads, and building campaigns that contain mobile sizes is essential to adapt to how viewers consume media.
Daniel Jacobsson, Bannerflow co-founder states “Today, browsers for mobiles are just as competent as those for desktop and advanced features should be embraced also in mobile ads. Really, there’s no excuse for mobile ads being more static and lifeless.”
There is also now clear evidence that mobile display ads are the preferred device during leisure hours.
To take advantage of this, and produce high performing display advertising, marketers must be able to schedule and control which ad sizes to publish and when. Again, if a marketing team has access to a CMP, building, publishing, and optimising mobile campaigns is not an issue.
Best practice tips:
- As well as designing mobile first, marketers should not be shy in using the same range of strategies, tactics, and technology they would use for desktop. Successful display campaigns work across devices and use exciting elements just as much as their desktop counterparts.
4. Connecting live data feeds to your display ads
Data feeds help make even the most basic display ad more relevant. They offer the ability to present consumers with your brand’s latest information, including products, live offers, and sporting odds.
What are data feeds?
A data feed, or web feed, is essentially a spreadsheet which frequently updates content to an ad. Often, display advertising feeds are XML-files and can contain data such as words, and sentences in any language, numeric values, image URLs, and links. You can even use them to dynamically display live product inventory.
Why use data feeds in your display advertising?
Using a data feed ensures that display campaigns can remain personal, relevant and fresh. They are a brilliant way to control and display relevant ad content.
One of the first industries to use data feeds in banners was iGaming; with early adopters showing live betting odds (now standard industry best practice). However, many brands – in other industries – are still in the early stages of using data feeds, suggesting an opportunity for marketing teams in those sectors.
What makes the use of data feeds notable is their relative ease to create and control via a CMP. All you need to do is connect a data feed to your master creative and this will then show the copy, products, or offers you want displayed across all ad sizes and variants of a display campaign.
Plus, use even more sources of data and you can start to build even smarter campaigns that use dynamic creative strategies. Data feeds are an important first step towards building personalised and hyper-relevant display campaigns.
Best practice tips:
- Combining data feeds with retargeting is a great way to improve display advertising performance. It means that consumers only see the products or offers that are relevant to them.
- For example, if a consumers session has been followed on a website using cookies, a brand can serve a display ad with a data feed to show products or offers only relevant to that particular consumer.
Display advertising doesn’t have to be simple, boring, and static. With the right technology, you can create engaging and relevant ads with ease. Simply apply the same level of creativity you would on a TV or social campaign and you’ll see your performance increase.
In our next chapter, we cover how to measure campaign data and how to use that data to optimise your display campaigns.
What is a good click-through rate (CTR) for display advertising?
This is a common question that many digital marketers ask themselves, and it is one that can vary a lot.
Why is CTR such an important metric?
In its simplest form, click-through rate measures how often people who view an ad end up clicking on it.
It is a useful metric for display advertising as it is a clear indicator of engagement with a potential consumer. What’s more, the quality of the imagery, ad positioning, copy, and many other elements that impact CTR can be controlled and altered by the advertiser.
CTR can vary a lot between display advertisers
Looking at data from the Google Display Network, the average CTR can vary widely, with the benchmark across all ad formats and placements for a display ad CTR around 0.05%.
Furthermore, the CTR for different industries and organisations can vary because audiences for different campaigns consume display advertising in different ways.
For example, a static brand awareness campaign for a brand advertising the latest update to a piece of office software will have a lower CTR compared to a dynamic travel ad featuring in-banner video and real-time product offers.
How can a Creative Management Platform (CMP) help users achieve a better CTR?
The best way to achieve a good CTR in display advertising (alongside a good ROI) is to use a creative management platform (CMP).
The fact is, being able to produce display advertising with impact is a crucial way of achieving a good CTR. What’s more, the key to checking a higher impact within display advertising is by being both data-driven and creative; a strategy a CMP assists with greatly.
Note: Different formats of display ad have different CTRs too. For example, large sizes, such as the leaderboard (728×90) will achieve a better CTR because of their prominent positions and size on a webpage.
What is the best practice of optimising live display ads?
Once you have published a display campaign, your work does not end there. For many marketers this is only the beginning of a display strategy.
For example, it’s important to analyse the effectiveness of your campaigns. Measure campaign costs, conversion rates and continually A/B test to determine what imagery and messaging is working for your brand.
Tip: Measure conversion rates
It goes without saying but both during, and at the end of your campaign, measure the conversion rate of your campaign.
Remember, a conversion is not necessarily a consumer transaction and can mean whatever you have set for your display campaign. For example, it may be a charity seeking sign-ups from volunteers for life-saving courses.
Tip: Speed and moment marketing boosts performance
The world never stops turning and the day your campaign launches could be very different to the one you planned weeks ago. Therefore, being able to react and edit published ads in real-time, across the web, is now a necessity.
Use a CMP to control your display ads and you can update entire campaigns in an instant. Whether counteracting a competitors offer, or exploiting a unique opportunity, or simply removing a copy error – it’s a strategy that saves you time and money.
Tip: Build a post-click landing page
Remember! Do not forget to build a post-click landing page to link to. Studies have shown that creating a visual link between ads and landing pages creates a sense of continuity and improves results.
Tip: Test your ad creative
Testing variations of ad creative is the ultimate best practice. And if marketers use a CMP, they have access to live ad analytics, and can update ads in real-time.
Previously, advanced display ad testing and live optimisation were either too slow or too expensive to work effectively. However, in-house marketing teams using the right ad tech can now perform what was once a complex process with ease.
Why do you need to analyse display advertising transparently?
A key to successfully measuring performance is to use transparent and reliable data. Without accurate performance data, it is impossible for marketers to measure and analyse the success of a display ad.
What is transparency in display advertising?
Transparency is knowing your display ad performance is correct. It is trusting your data provider, or agency, or in-house team to only use data that is real and not flawed.
This should be easy but that isn’t always the case. Indeed, according to a recent survey of European marketers, 87% were concerned with the transparency level of media agencies!
For digital marketers that want efficiency, agility and a better ROI – none of this is possible without live transparent data (and a platform to use it).
How can you achieve transparency?
Having total control over your digital advertising processes is step one of gaining transparency over your display advertising.
Step 1: Take your marketing in-house
In a recent report on the state of in-house marketing, we learnt that many marketers in Europe reported moving some – if not all – of their marketing in-house in an effort to increase transparency.
By having full ownership over your production and analytics, you can see there and then how your ads are performing, and how to make adjustments.
However, If you’re not ready to move your display advertising in-house there are simple adjustments you make to your brand-agency relationship.
For example, encourage openness and real-time oversight on how your ads are performing and make sure they keep the time it takes to amend an ad down to a minimum.
Step 2: Work with a creative management platform (CMP)
To get the most out of your data – a creative management platform such as Bannerflow provides you with transparency over both your creative production and ad analytics.
Since the production/editing time is reduced to a minimum, there’s virtually nothing stopping you from making real-time updates of your creatives based on their performance.