The digital ad industry is officially out of ideas – Business Insider
Digital advertising sure seems to be stuck thinking inside the
Consider Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer at Procter &
Gamble, who has been on something of a 12-city summer tour
decrying the state of ad tech.
Pritchard told an audience at the Dmexco conference in Cologne,
Germany, a few weeks ago that the various factions in the
industry needed to work together to build “the next generation of
Ad Age reported.
“Bottom line, it is time for marketers and tech companies to
solve the problem of annoying ads and make the ad experience
better for consumers,” Pritchard said.
Now, as the ad industry looks to converge this week in New York
Week, it seems perhaps fair to ask, “Hey Marc, where’ve you
After all, the digital ad world has hardly lacked for committees
and councils and initiatives aimed at making better-looking ads —
ideally ads that people remember and maybe don’t hate.
Here’s a list of past efforts aimed at improving digital ads:
- Project Devil — a suite of premium,
magazine-like ads that AOL rolled out in 2010 that were
supposed to be adopted by much of the web.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Rising Stars
— a yearslong initiative aimed at creating bigger, bolder,
The Online Publishers Association’s big ads — a
late-2000s effort to help major publishers capture TV ad
budgets with, guess what, big banners.
- Brand.net — a decade ago aspired to build
a digital ad network across top publishers for “brand
None of these ever got widespread adoption, and few are around
But as Prichard made his new-ideas plea, look at what else is
After years of holding out against and generally slamming banner
BuzzFeed is now running them. Vox Media is trying to build a
premium ad network for brand advertising, promising “bold,
beautiful ad experiences.” And after long resisting,
it’s starting to sell its ads programmatically.
Yet guess what the experience for a consumer seeing digital ads
is in 2017: lots of squares and rectangles. Squares and
rectangles that blink and move and expand and take over screens.
Down on banners
“When you talk to top-level chief marketing officers, or SVPs at
big agencies, and they’re like, ‘banners, programmatic,’ they’re
really down on it,” said Josh Topolsky, the founder and CEO of
Topolsky, who helped found The Verge and ran Bloomberg’s web
operations, said digital media needed a complete ad overhaul. He
points to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram — where the ads
are built for those mobile apps and are placed in the same
framing as their core functions and content — as being where the
open web needs to go.
“I do think from an industry perspective, there’s confusion about
what’s the next thing, and we’re stuck using highly inefficient
systems from 1994,” he said. Even newer digital publishers like
BuzzFeed and Vox are stuck in this trap, he said.
“They’re aping a style from newspapers,” he said. “Ads become
these foreign objects on the side when they need a fundamental
rebuild. We’re just doing bigger banners.”
Wait, aren’t we supposed to be backing off big ads because of ad
blocking and mobile and general consumer anger? Isn’t that what
AMP and the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s recent
LEAN initiative are all about?
Mobile’s even worse, insiders say.
Patrick Keane, a veteran digital ad executive who’s now an
operating partner at the investment firm Stripes, said when it
came to digital creative, “There is no new new right now.”
Too often, he said, the plan is, “Let’s just make really f—-ing
big ads.” He continued: “We should be about creating impactful
mobile creative, but the problem is, everyone ported the ills and
the shittiness of desktop ads, like popups and instant-play muted
“I wouldn’t say I’m super optimistic,” he added. “You’ve got
audiences that are impossible to reach and are doing everything
in their power to avoid you.”
“There are a lot of reasons creative sucks right now,” said Diaz
Nesamoney, the CEO of Jivox, a company that uses technology to
help deliver personalized digital ads. “The biggest contributing
factor is programmatic. It’s self-inflicted.”
Wait, isn’t programmatic great for the industry?
According to Nesamoney, the digital ad world has been obsessed
with promising marketers quick, easy scale to compete with TV,
and the only way of doing that has been automation. “So then you
get narrow pipes that only allow banners through,” he said.
In his mind, digital creative needs a total rethink. But instead
of trying to emulate TV or magazine with “beautiful ads,” digital
creative should come from using targeting and data to deliver
welcome, relevant messages.
“Look at Facebook,” he said. “Their ads are often just text and
they work. A good ad is not just a nice-looking ad. It’s not just
cool and clever. It’s about making what we are saying relevant.”
“There’s been an overemphasis on the big idea. The whole industry
is struggling with this.”
Other than that, happy Advertising Week!