Internet technology has come a long way since the AOL dial-up days, and that includes advancements in online advertising. Unfortunately, with all this change, one of the most popular online formats — banner ads — just couldn’t survive the rising tide.
The fall of the banner ad is unsurprising to most. After all, it was born out of necessity. Online publishers needed a consistent way to monetise the web in the early days, but what made banner ads so attractive in the first place — their standardised size — was ultimately their downfall.
Banner ads were everywhere, but they also looked the same on every website, and they continue to look the same even 20 years after their launch. The uniformity of online advertising made internet users numb to the 1,707 banner ads they saw per month — a phenomenon that became known as banner blindness. Many companies attempted to solve banner blindness with animation, expanded sizes, pop-ups, pop-unders, interstitials, and more — but to no avail.
However, the dying banner ad has given way to a more purposeful and effective form of online marketing: the native ad.
Why native advertising will prevail
Where banner ads fall short, native ads thrive. With limited sizing options, banner ads force publishers to rearrange their websites to fit around the ad, not vice versa. But native advertising provided an answer to that problem.
By definition, native ads fit naturally into a website — between paragraphs, tucked under an article, or embedded into a story, for example. Websites are no longer simply destinations; they’re experiences with complicated designs and interactive features. Unlike banner ads, native ads are website-friendly, enhancing a design rather than disrupting it.
But the main driver behind native’s success is its impact on engagement. These days, you’re more likely to complete Navy SEAL training, climb Mount Everest, or get into MIT than click on a banner ad. But in our increasingly interactive world, consumers want experiences, and they want them on mobile devices. Again, native ads win here. With the ability to fit into the space provided, they offer a much more organic experience than banner ads do, especially on smaller screens.
Most importantly, native ads offer lower cost-per-click and cost-per-mille rates and more revenue opportunities than banner ads. The bottom line is that native advertising can maximise your digital ad spend and increase your engagement.
Like wine and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and sand and surf, native advertising pairs exceptionally well with content marketing. Consumers want to learn about products and services to make informed purchase decisions, and thoughtful native ads provide the perfect vehicle for delivering educational promotional content while bridging the gap between content creation and distribution.
Native advertising also has a successful track record for cultivating brand awareness and generating leads while proving to be an effective method for outbound marketing.
How marketers can prepare for the native advertising age
As with any novel form of advertising, you’ll have to learn new lingo and adjust your marketing strategy based on what works for you. Luckily, because of the flexible nature of native advertising, testing multiple creatives is quick and easy, especially when using an ad network.
But one of the biggest hurdles marketers must prepare for is the creation of extremely engaging content. Without relevant, reader-driven content, native ads won’t really help the sales process, the conversion process, or whatever the end goal may be. Marketers have to be extremely creative in their ad creation and their content creation.
To successfully implement native ads, you should also implement a targeting strategy — even if you’re trying to reach a larger group than your normal audience. Consider using a native advertising network that operates with multiple publishers across the world. This will allow you to reach millions more users than you could through a single publisher and will offer you sophisticated targeting options.
The banner ad may be dying, but because of its existence, native ads were created. This evolution will only continue to allow marketers to exercise their creativity while putting more money back into their pockets.