Interactive E-Commerce Advertising is the New Normal
For consumers who use smartphones or tablets to manage their daily lives, they expect a certain level of interaction. Images and content are expected to be dynamic and able to be expanded or manipulated at will. This desire contrasts sharply to the model of online advertising that remains a flat and static image combined with text. Interactive online ads are a dynamic alternative that are improving in quality at a rapid pace, moving towards custom-produced commercials that give consumers access to the right product in less time.
Better Consumer Engagement
Interactive ads in this context allow viewers to choose various options within the actual banner. They can select merchandise for closer review, click between different color options or choose advanced options such as voice narration. If viewing a sales ad for a clothing retailer, a consumer could sort by “men’s” or “women’s” apparel, then by “tops” or “pants.” Once their desired list of clothing is narrowed, they could then watch a high-quality video which shows the cut and fit of each piece. They could see a white top with green pants or vice versa. All of this is done within the banner, without ever leaving the publisher's site.
Interactive ads that enable image zooming or panning not only provide a better way to view merchandise, they can also simply be a fun diversion for consumers who always have an expectation of entertainment.
Consumers that browse merchandise within a banner ad also save time when they proceed to the advertiser’s main site. Armed with more knowledge, they're able to quickly navigate and are less likely to perform every e-commerce retailer's worst nightmare — shopping cart abandonment.
Publishers Enjoy the Stickiness Factor
For ad publishers, interactive ads allow viewers to remain on their site while they peruse merchandise. By not jumping to the advertiser’s site, the viewer is exposed to more of the content and ads on the publisher site, increasing the chances of clicking other ads and engaging with the publisher’s own content.
Publishers also benefit from increased engagement rates for interactive ads which, according to DoubleClick, are often more than five times those of traditional rich media ads, regardless of vertical. Viewers spend more time with a video-driven ad, with up to 50 percent greater stickiness. This increase in engagement results in a prequalification of consumers, where clickthrough rates might not be higher, but their propensity to ultimately make purchases is markedly increased.
Advertisers looking for lower costs and greater efficiency can find both through interactive ads. Advertisers can typically use their existing photo catalog to populate their ads. A car dealership that has 10 shots of every car on its lot can get extra value out of the images by using them for their online advertising inventory. By adding a moving component to static images, advertisers lend some excitement to their products without incurring the additional expense of producing and editing full-motion video.
While this type of online ad format is certainly not brand new, it's maintaining a sense of newness because of all the new functionalities that are constantly being introduced (e.g., automated voiceovers, custom graphics). These functionalities are making them better and better at grabbing consumers’ attention, enabling more conversions and better brand awareness. More consumer interaction options within the banner also means more reporting metrics that can be analyzed to find hidden customer preferences or desires.
Finding the Right Partner
Cutting-edge ad services can provide advertisers with engaging banner content on the right publisher site. Connecting an advertiser’s inventory to a database via a simple API allows for real-time updates of products and merchandise that appear in interactive ad banners. For example, if a baby products retailer discontinues a lime green baby stroller from its database, that change can be automatically reflected in its entire network of video ads. When an online shopper comes to a publisher page with that retailer’s ad, it's automatically called up, with video rendered on the fly.
This automatic updating of banner content is a very strategic option for retailers as they can dynamically manage pricing and selection without redoing creative content. Customer annoyance is avoided by not offering outdated merchandise, and sales items can be timed to exactly mirror online or brick-and-mortar sales.
The latest ad serving technology allows interactive ads to deliver professional quality at nominal cost. Professional narration can be included in the ads to describe product details, such as a description of an automobile's luxury and standard features. Advanced platforms can pull all of this updated information in less than a second.
To provide ads that fit rapidly changing consumer desires, it’s all about expectations. The consumer wants customizable information that's attractive and clearly presented to help them quickly decide if a product holds their interest or not. The trick for advertisers will be to continue the evolution of the online ad to match these expectations through faster and even more interactive advertising vehicles.
Kirk Davis is executive vice president, marketing and account service, and co-founder of Liquidus, a video technology company that provides innovative advertising solutions on the web and TV. Kirk can be reached at (312) 589-6102.