Digital Advertising: All talk and no (inter)action
New research estimated that a third of the UK population will use tablets this year, whilst 2013 also marks the first time the majority of UK adults have used the internet to read or download news. However, whilst magazine circulation figures have shown a major growth in the readership of digital titles, particularly with big consumer publications, these figures still fall behind the popularity of print editions, and digital advertising revenue has failed to reach the potential indicated by the growth in mobile and tablet use.
Agencies clearly see the opportunity to grow the influence of the brands they work with, and the importance of exposure beyond print. They are making steps towards giving their customers value whatever the platform they choose, but on the whole, there is a failure to recognise the discord between how traditional and digital media are consumed.
Whilst the industry waxes lyrical about the benefits of platform specific content and reader engagement, and research proves that enhanced adverts generate twice as much readership and a 63 per cent increase in time spent engaged with the content compared with static adverts, too often in reality digital editions are simply replicating print or web content into digital editions.
So, what’s stopping advertisers and agencies fully embracing the digital revolution? And how can we overcome these issues?
Although growing, the readership of digital publications still tends to lag a long way behind it’s print counterparts. Too many see this as a reason not to invest time or resources into digital, choosing instead to replicate print adverts online. However, the most successful digital magazines are those which encourage interaction between readers and the publication, create pages which work across different devices and feature interactive adverts that engage readers. The more agencies act on this, rather than just talking about this, the sooner digital advertising and publishing will reach it’s full potential.
The opportunities presented by digital sound like the holy grail for the advertising industry. You can measure, and ultimately monetize, every interaction. Agencies no longer need to rely on circulation figures and outdated readership algorithms offered by publishers and have the opportunity to track every view, click or engagement. You can see where an advert works, where it doesn’t, and where your advertising dollar is best spent. Yet despite this massive potential, the re-use of print ads for digital is the easier, and cheaper, option.
This widespread replication of print ads for digital is missing one key consideration, perhaps the most important consideration for advertising – an advert should catch the reader’s attention. The dimensions of a standard print ad are roughly the same as a smartphone or tablet screen, so when existing artwork is just scaled down to fit the device the expectation is that readers will ‘pinch and zoom’ to read content. The impact of the advert is lost. Any content which depends on the efforts of the reader is not going to be effective.
So, mobile audiences are growing, interaction is proven to be more effective in engaging audiences but revenue in the digital space is failing to catch up. One of the key barriers to this growth is the perceived cost of creating adverts to work across all platforms, but new technology is available to help designers and agencies create adverts for all major smartphone and tablet devices. Using existing print files and from a single document this technology removes the need for the production of multiple adverts.
The failure of mobile advertising to live up to the opportunity is a threat to the entire advertising industry. Brands will seek more effective means of generating attention if the tools offered by agencies become ineffective. There are endless ways for marketing departments to spend their money, and enough marketing and technology start ups offering new ways to spend it. The ad industry can’t afford to stand still.
Jon Simcox is Managing Director at AdBeetle, a digital advertising creation and delivery firm