media update’s Jenna Cook takes a look at the digital advertising industry 24 years after the launch of the first banner ad.

Digital advertising has been – and still is – a relatively inexpensive and measurable way to directly target your audience – no matter how wide this audience is spread. Yet as the call for a more accessible, free and clutterless Internet begins to grow stronger, does this mean that digital advertising will lose its edge over traditional advertising?

What is digital advertising exactly?

Digital advertising is any form of marketing content that requires the help of the Internet to be displayed. These ads can be seen across web browsers, social media, search engines and even in mobile games. And in the marketing mix, they have built a tool that has been essential to advertising for the last quarter of a century.

Online advertising takes shape in many forms – here are the six most common kinds:

1. Display ads
The first and most common example is the display ad. These ads have evolved from basic banner ads into pop-up ads, ‘flash’ ads and even small-scale video ads – usually the advertising content that is shown (but not specifically related to) the website that is being viewed.

2. Social media ads
Social media ads are highly targeted marketing messages that are displayed on social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
A dependable form of advertising is SEM. It involves paying for specific keywords so that when that keyword is searched, your website or content will be ranked higher on the results page of the search engine used.

4. Native ads
Native ads are marketing messages that have been integrated into the platform that they appear on. They are usually listed at the end of a post.

5. Video ads
This form of ad is quickly becoming the most popular amongst marketers. Video ads provide a way to tell a story in an immersive way.

6. Email marketing
Email marketing has been around for almost as long as display ads. It’s a cheap and fast way to market to a very targeted audience. This is because marketers can have their choice in who receives this communication.

What has been the effect of digital advertising on the ad industry?

At first, the rise of digital advertising managed to steal the attention away from traditional advertising because, for the first time, advertising mimicked the trusting nature of word-of-mouth. Brands could suddenly leverage the Internet to become ‘friends’ with their consumers – who are ordinarily more likely to trust their peers than a brand.

However, this made the digital advertising space cluttered, leaving little breathing room for consumers to experience the website itself.

Doc Searls, senior editor of Linux Journal, has this to say: “Even if we don’t like ads fattening our magazines and interrupting our TV shows, we at least know the economic role they play and appreciate the best ones, which can be every bit as good as the content they sponsor.”

“These ads send strong signals about brands, they respect our privacy and don’t lure us away from what we’re doing.”

Enter the creation of ad blockers and subscription content. Suddenly consumers aren’t allowing intrusive, disruptive and, quite frankly, time-consuming ads to load on their devices. They are even willing to pay fees that ensure their time online is uninterrupted.

“Instead of seeing ad-filtering softwares as some sort of ‘Pac-Man’ eater of digital ad revenue, brands should see it as a refreshing opportunity. One that will allow us to rethink online advertising, to increase quality of content and to bring added-value to an already tired advertising format,” says Cora Vee, founder of ENHANCE.

Where does this leave digital advertising in the future?

Display ads have lost their title as the new and innovative way to measure success or reach a target audience. This doesn’t mean that digital advertising is a dead end. Instead, marketers should consider a form of digital advertising that provides value to the consumer – possibly in the way of content marketing, for example.

One thing’s for sure – digital advertising is here to stay. Perhaps not in the form it was always intended, but certainly in the way of a novel and more mutually beneficial relationship between advertisers and consumers – one that few other marketing tools can match.

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Does the resurgence of print advertising have anything to do with the loss of digital novelty? Find out by reading our article, Why luxury brands pick print over digital.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy