a woman holding a phone

There is no denying that the digital advertising landscape has undergone a significant evolution over the last few decades, and we’d be remiss to assume that this high-speed train is coming to a halt any time soon. And, with the ever-changing tides, advertisers and publishers have had to quickly adapt to keep up with the latest mediums, formats, and audiences.

Today, it is crucial to deliver formats that capture attention, drive engagement and resonate with relevant audiences. Gone are the days of small, easy-to-miss or ignore banners that do not drive tangible results. Advertisers can no longer trust that simply seeing an ad – even briefly – is enough to declare a successful campaign. 

The life of advertising placements has experienced a drastic evolution as technology continues to develop, data is collected, and performance metrics are used to inform future campaigns. 

A brief recap

Long before social media and personal handheld devices were the norm, marketers advertised on a massive scale, using radio spots, TV commercials, billboards, newspapers and magazine placements. While they certainly attracted eyes, this methodology limited their reach to a broad audience rather than a targeted audience. The latter being far more ideal.

a billboard on the side of the highway
A billboard on the side of a highway.

The mid-90s gave online advertisers banner ads (or display ads), as internet access became more common in the average household. A Pew Research Center study found that in 1995, 14% of U.S. adults had internet access, and that number only continued to rise as more households acquired computers. As businesses recognized the trend toward regular online usage, we also saw a rapid growth in business websites and eCommerce stores, naturally resulting in more banner ads. The standard ad sizes were:

  • 300×250
  • 468×60
  • 125×125
  • 120×600
  • 728×90.  

By the mid-2000s and into the 2010s, social media advertising was getting its start, with Facebook Advertising, YouTube, and Twitter enabling businesses to get in front of the 65% of adults utilizing social networking sites (2015). Common placements were right column or sidebar, Newsfeeds, in-stream videos, and in-article. Impression and click metrics would then be used to retarget consumers in hopes of guiding them down the buying cycle.

Today, many of the same placements and tactics are still utilized, except advertisers can now tap into an astounding 5 billion internet users worldwide (63% of the global population), and 3.96 billion social media users. However, the sheer number of consumers and their exposure to advertisements does not translate to the campaign success one might assume.

Over time, consumers continued to see banner ads. But they were often presented with creatives that were not optimized for their screens, and advertising products and services that did not align with their interests or demographic. In many cases, these ads were downright intrusive and irrelevant, dissuading individuals from giving them their time or attention. 

Changing placements

The decline, so to speak, of digital advertising as we used to know it, is largely due to an inability or refusal to adapt to consumers’ evolving standards, desire for privacy and lifestyles. Some advertisers and publishers neglect key metrics when measuring attention and success, making for an undesirable experience on the users’ side.

When contemplating the evolution of advertising placements, consider the evolution of the devices at our disposal. For example, the first-generation Apple iPhone was released in 2007 with a 3.5-inch display. The first-generation Apple iPad was released in 2010 with a 9.7-inch display. Today iPhone displays range from 4.7 to 6.7 inches, while iPad displays range from 8.3 to 12.9 inches. Meanwhile, standard laptop models have 13- to 15-inch displays. And this is only scratching the surface.

three iPhones at varying sizes
A person comparing the various iPhone sizes.

While mere inches may not sound as though they’d make a difference in presentation, they most certainly do. And because of that, advertisers must now consider how they use their creatives on different screens. Couple such technicalities with where and how ads are placed on consumers’ devices, and you’re looking at evolution that can’t be ignored. And the potential for lost attention.

We now know that attention is vital to any meaningful advertising campaign. Advertisements that do not gain and retain customer attention are a hit or a miss – but more likely a miss. This is because, without attention, advertisers can’t be sure if their brand message was understood, or if it will resonate long after the creative is seen.

Attention and viewability go hand-in-hand.

Fact: consumer attention is the ultimate asset. The foundation of a successful advertising campaign. And if advertisers want to take advantage of or even add length to consumers’ short attention spans, they must reconsider their standards of measurement and advertising placements. 

Advertisers’ role is to attract consumers to brands. It’s essential to deliver messages that stick long after they are seen. And it must be done in a thoughtful, elective, non-intrusive manner that at the same time, generates real, valuable results and insights.

The Media Rating Council’s (MRC) viewability standards are flawed, deeming an ad as ‘seen’ if 50% of the creative is in view for at least one second. This includes ads that are only partially visible or even playing off-screen. However, if you consider those standards logically, it’s clear that if your audience cannot see your ad, then it’s virtually impossible for them to be drawn in.

At Ogury, viewability is a key pillar of our success. That’s why we created fully on-screen mobile ad formats that cannot be missed. In a joint study with Lumen Research, a third-party specialist in attention measurement, Ogury’s formats were seen by 96% of respondents, 29% more than the market average. Using Lumen’s attention funnel, we were able to analyze engagement on an ad or page, eye movements and brand recall. This allowed us to build a complete illustration of the attention generated as compared to the market.

However, this attention must go beyond simply catching a user’s eye. It must be retained.

Maintaining their attention with the right formats, in the right environments

Capturing attention is one endeavor, maintaining it is an entirely different beast. With that, the first question any advertiser must ask is if their ad can be seen, if it is being delivered in an interactive environment, and whether the content fits today’s standard.

“Ad placements are going to evolve, but probably more importantly, ad content is going to have to evolve in extended reality environments,” says Oliver Lewis, CEO and Founder of The FIFTH Group. “The prediction is by 2030 that we’ll spend more time or more physical conscious time in the metaverse than we do in actual reality, which means there’s an entire attention and economic shift coming.”

Flash back to the present. The ad ecosystem is rapidly advancing, forcing brands and advertisers to innovate in order to garner consumer attention. Today, consumers are exposed to double the number of ads they were a decade ago, making it critical to stand out.

Oliver continued, “But most importantly, the biggest change that we’re seeing today will continue to evolve which is: attention will be driven by human faces, by interaction with environments that are immersive, that can add value and experience to consumers. I think that’s only going to be a trend that continues to evolve. And in the metaverse, I think it will be critical.”

All or nothing

Taking what we have learned from the history of advertising placement, full-screen ad formats are a must. It is crucial for an ad to be fully visible, fully on-screen, to capture the user’s attention and hold onto it, beating their desire to exit before the message has been delivered. 

Ogury only offers fully on-screen formats, such as Thumbnail Ad, Header Ad, and the Site Scroller, a full-screen ad unit that engages the audience with an interactive microsite, driving brand awareness and memorability. Our goal is to fully maximize our publishers’ performance and advertisers’ investments by ensuring that their brand messages are fully on-screen, 100% of the time and understood.

Our fully on-screen formats have a proven track record of holding attention, with most users allowing them to continue playing rather than closing them. Ogury then goes further by considering different standards of measurement in order to gauge the success of an advertising campaign. Instead of following the unacceptable standards created by the digital ad market, we focus on the only KPI that should count: Fully On-Screen Rate for 50% duration, where Ogury outperforms the market by 2x, as measured and validated by Moat.