In an industry now worth £1.86 billion according to the IAB, the growth of display has been prompted primarily by the wide adoption of the internet but also by new, more sophisticated ad formats. For example, video now accounts for 18% of all online and mobile display advertising while mobile represents 23% of total digital display advertising according to the IAB’s same report.

The industry is challenged with addressing these changing consumer habits and the evolving attitudes within the industry, as advertisers question whether metrics which have been in place for over 10 years, are still relevant today. With this in mind, these are three prominent trends we see in display at the moment:

1. No false wins
The IAB’s recent decision to set viewability metrics reflects the need for the industry to increase transparency and accountability. In addition, Google recently acquired attribution company, Adometry, another indication that measurement in the industry needs to change. For a long time, advertisers have been in the dark about whether their ads are seen – let alone engaged with by their target audiences.

The CPM metric suggests that advertisers need to buy impressions by the thousands on specific sites, in the hope that their ads will reach at least a few potential buyers. With CPM there’s no guarantee that an advertiser will make a sale and hence there is lower accountability.

Since the rise of programmatic media-buying and real-time bidding, industry experts are seeing the value of selling impressions to the highest bidder, where the advertisement is suited to the browser’s profile, as opposed to CPM where they bought impressions in bulk for specific publisher sites in advance.

Real-time bidding is based on data insights allowing brands to find and reach their target audience profile. This way, advertisers have confidence their ads are being served to their specific target customers based on previous behaviours, which have been profiled and evaluated. This increases confidence that they will reach an audience that will convert to a sale.

Once the ads are served either through RTB or CPM, impressions or clicks have in the past been a traditional measurement method. However there are problems with these metrics. Whilst advertising impressions provide scale and volume, they don’t provide transparency about purchase intent. On the other hand, clicks provide this clarity, but they are a broken metric to track ‘interest’ as only a small percentage of buyers actually click. To combat this we’ve developed the metric of ‘engagement’ which can track exact behaviours in the ads, and even understand what specific products customers are interested in. It provides transparency and provides insight on where brands are seeing sales.

2. Borderless shopping
Boundaries no longer exist across geographies or devices. Shoppers are interacting with brands on numerous channels before making the decision to buy, and mobile means that they can consume media on the go. For example, webrooming and showrooming have emerged, whereby shoppers go to the web, or visit the store to research products before they buy them through a different channel. To influence consumers, brands have to be wherever they are.

Although new technology gives brands access to more information about this customer journey than ever before, consolidating this into a single view of the customer and targeting the consumer effectively has become more challenging. Brands need the ability to reach and target a customer when they jump from one device to another or go between online and offline channels.

By understanding this interplay between channels, brands can target consumers intelligently. For example, by looking at the combined data across two or more channels, they can see if there is a higher propensity to buy when display overlaps with affiliate, search or any other channels. The shopping journey has changed but if brands understand their target customer’s path to purchase, and optimise their activity using these insights, they will succeed in evolving alongside their consumers.

3. A new mantra: ‘dynamic, targeted and actionable’
Display ads now need to provide an experience, offering something beneficial to your customer. Today it takes much more to catch the attention of distracted consumers who are bombarded with content and flitting between web pages. By creating an ad to provide an overall brand experience, marketing message and engaging functionality, you’re helping to create a higher conversion.

To achieve this a cohesive brand experience is critical. It should be optimised per channel so that the user experience from desktop site, to Facebook, to tablet doesn’t differ. Shoppers who abandon your site and go to a news or lifestyle website should receive the same experience as a shopper who leaves your store and sees your ad in the newspaper. Brands have a short amount of time to remind consumers of their product and template or static ads just won’t do.

With strong creative you can achieve this easily; for example, you immediately add more value to your campaign when your banners become interactive or when your product image or information is dynamic. Be careful not to create redundant functionality, think about what actions you want customers to take and incorporate this into your design strategy.

Moreover, incentivising your vendor to drive incremental sales will ensure that they are not ‘spamming’ the user with ads. Critically, build an ad experience that is designed to drive a sale, not just a click.

The display arena has changed leaps and bounds from where it was 20 years ago, when the first online ad appeared. Changing consumer behaviours and the pressure to show greater ROI means that the marketing industry is having to adapt and ad spend is coming under scrutiny.

By addressing the issues of measurement and implementing ads that will drive shoppers to an action, brands can continue to engage shoppers with display retargeting, and ensure campaigns result in incremental sales.