"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Marcus Pratt, vice president of insights and technology at Mediasmith.
Measured in digital years, the banner ad may be approaching old age. Is it time for retirement?
Wired placed the first banner ad in October 1994, so the banner is now approaching its 20th birthday. A lot has changed since then when the web was still a novelty, Internet penetration was low and those who could get online were lucky to do so at a blazing 56k, tying up a phone line for the privilege. Now the US Internet population approaches 90%, high-speed access can be found in any Starbucks and banner ads are routinely served at 30,000 feet.
Despite the massive growth of digital media, the banner ad itself still looks strikingly similar to the early versions of the '90s. To be fair, animations have (mostly) evolved past the Geocities era, a host of rich media executions provide multiple engagement options and banners sometimes expand beyond their borders.
But RTB media, which represents the fastest growth within display, consists almost entirely of what the industry has deemed “standard banners.” These standard banners can be static or animated, and are typically Flash or image files. At their core these standard banners bear striking similarity to their ancestors: a rectangular shape separated from the page “content” while bearing little relevance to the rest of the page.
The banner has grown up since ’94, but it may not have evolved enough to stay relevant on today’s web. Over the years, many have questioned whether the death of the banner ad was imminent, yet the banner has continued to flourish. The banner ad faces several key threats in 2014.
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