Since the advent of search based traffic and real-time ad exchanges, the returns that publishers have been receiving for their ad inventory has been steadily pushed down to unsustainable levels. Although major publishers have improved their SEO rankings, the standard ad units traded over the exchanges remain a dampener on the industry. An analogy could be the Groupon problem – you sell hard, fast and very cheap to get volume, but the long-term effectiveness is just not there.
In an effort to counter this trend, leading publishers are creating their own internal ad product teams to manage non-standard ad units that are created with and sold directly to advertisers. Yes, this is a less efficient model, but it allows for lots of creativity that the exchange traded standard units just can’t match. When you are an exchange trading on hundreds of publishers, the lowest common denominator is all you can offer. What that means for the end-users are bland, boring display ads that are the same in functionality as they were ten years ago.
Custom Units To The Rescue
As more and more publishers seek to offer something unique and relevant to their site to their advertisers, customized ad units are growing in popularity. These ad units are often highly content related and designed to fit seamlessly into. The best of these should feel unobtrusive yet interesting to the visitor. As is the case with our NextTab product, these units often have sophisticated interaction, discovery and social sharing functionality more akin to an application than an ad unit. It seems that is really where the line is blurring at the moment and where the most exciting innovations in online advertising are happening right now. When ads start to be purpose built so that consumers enjoy using them rather than just viewing them, is when advertiser, publisher and audience will be truly aligned.
Congratulations Innovative Publishers
So a huge congratulations from all of us at Alensa to the publishers taking confident strides down this path! We strongly believe that if we are to preserve a high level of content quality on the internet, it will be through the fair collaboration between advertisers, publishers and their complete alignment with the needs of their audience. This is what will lead to the unlocking of innovative spirit, instead of commoditization, within the online publishing industry.