The banner ad has come a long way from AT&T’s first banner ad in 1994, which included no logo, little copy and a click through rate of 44%. Display ads are predicted to make up 31% of the internet by 2019. Aesthetically the AT&T ad goes against many unspoken rules of creative; readability issues, lack of proper margins and spacing… we could go on.

Google research from November 2014 found that 56.1% of all display ad impressions never appeared on a screen. With stats like this, it’s no surprise that the banner ad has stepped up its game. Today, rich media creatives have become even more sophisticated and creative, offering users a variety of experiences such as in-ad games, video and 3D animated content. Rich media ads outperform standard creatives with higher conversion and click through rates, view through rates and increase brand awareness better than any other online formats.

Creative agencies may show little interest for programmatic, when they see creatives reduced to performance templates, but things are changing and programmatic is actually a fantastic opportunity to be even more creative, leaving plenty of room for agency created content.

Robotic creatives can have soul. With dynamic retargeting why just show the logo, name and price of hotels, when additional data from the product feed may be available such as average review scores or stars, images or videos can also be used, even local weather information, all this data can be useful to create personalised creative experiences.

Game start

A great way to engage with consumers is with games. Coined Advergames in 2000, video game banners can be easily integrated within a banner, not forcing users to leave the site, keeping them for longer periods of time in front of the brand. Video games as banners are able to bring the maximum amount of users by allowing them to register for prizes and/or invite friends to participate. This format can be a good way to explain/demonstrate the qualities of a product or a service in a playful way.

Gaming is becoming a very popular vehicle for increasing consumer engagement. According to Gartner, 70% of Global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application by 2014.

“Gaming has become ingrained in culture. The consumer has become more and more engaged, and [gaming] allows them to spend more and more time with your brand, and gives them incentive to do so,” says Ann Mack, director of trend spotting for worldwide ad agency, JWT.

Press play

A generation that consumes 6 billion hours of video each month, the embedded video ad is another growing form of rich media advertising. We are accustomed to videos in banners which are basically miniaturised TV commercials within a creative. However, video content can be broader, reflecting mood rather than a detailed narrative. A successful video ad is not intrusive, but enhances the brand’s image and content by inviting and making a user want to engage. Worten Navidad’s video for example, was used as a mood banner, and can be easily adapted to a variety of formats.

According to a report by Forrester, video advertising will represent nearly 55% of online display advertising revenue on desktop by 2019. “Marketers’ preference for video and rich media reflects their new ambitions for online display: They are moving beyond the notion of display as a direct response tool, and starting to explore display as an engagement and branding tool,” says marketing researcher Samantha Merlivat. But beyond branding, these new rich media formats will evolve to become a key component to remarketing campaigns.

Furthermore, according to an analysis of Videology’s platform in the fourth quarter, 94% of U.S. advertisers ran video campaigns with some form of advanced ad targeting – a 38% increase in the use of this targeting year-over-year.

3D animations

As an extension to video, custom 3D animated content can really raise the bar. Animated content can be designed to fit particular creative sizes, break from the traditional rectangular box and combined with layers of html creative content making the experience more seamless and interactive. With cutting edge experiences through a rapid adaptation of colours, logos and flexibility, 3D graphics can work with templates or be custom created for specific campaigns.

An advertiser could choose a 3D campaign on the ‘wow’ factor alone. Visually 3D animation allows for a more technical way of seeing things, accuracy in display with zoom, 360 rotation, and real time visualisation. 3D gives the opportunity for marketers to show off product-specific offers to users who have been identified as being interested in the respective product. This could be especially useful for ecommerce remarketing campaigns, giving users a true sense of the product, while shopping online.

Interactive advertising

Rich media normally is associated with reach campaigns, placing ads in front of as many people as possible for branding. We will see a shift to dynamic remarketing campaigns, which are rich media too. These rich media campaigns are elaborate, interactive experiences that contain dynamic retargeting elements and content. For example, a game where you drive the last car you saw on the car manufacturer website, video content from the city you wish to fly to, including the route and price recently consulted or rich media targeted at men or women, depending on the last section viewed on an ecommerce website. As long as advertisers are willing to experiment and continually strive for innovation, the possibilities are endless.

Research and contributions by Caio de Paula Marques, Jaume Calm Serra & Paco Gonzálvez Aguilar