With the digital age of information making it harder and harder to charge for content, never has it been more important for content owners to find new and effective ways to engage readers with their advertising. We spoke with Tom Beckenham from Specle, in a Q&A session about some of the key questions our customers have in regards to boosting advertising revenue through their app.
Does in-app advertising really work and how do you stop it from just being an annoyance?
This is a key question across all types of applications. Consumers have now developed a sophisticated way to zone out to certain advertising and content owners have to work much harder to attract (and hold) their attention. The least effective forms of advertising are banner or in article advertising – although easy to implement and quick to generate revenue, they don’t make for a good user experience. The best place to put advertising is between articles, this is much less intrusive and similar to the layout of print, it fits in with the consumers expectation and therefore often has a longer dwell time. As long as it is placed well and in an area than can be seen, users will better engage with ads and not just write them off. To answer the question ‘Does it really work?’, we’re yet to see. There is lots of evidence that digital publications are read in similar way to print and therefore creating ads between articles, which are designed for a particular device and go edge to edge, is likely to be most effective. Full page interstitials which offer a beautiful interactive experience definitely help to better engage an audience – dwell time is much longer. One thing which is very distracting is letterbox advertising, this doesn’t seem to work very well and dwell times are very low.
Interactive advertising is absolutely the most engaging way for advertisers to advertise; second best is getting an ad which is designed for device and goes edge to edge, from a user experience point of view, this is very effective.
What are the most successful ad formats for publishers right now?
I suppose this is linked to the last question. Full screen ads are much more successful than banner ads – I think we’re almost programmed now to ignore banner ads, but I don’t have a huge amount of evidence to support that theory other than through customer feedback. When you’re publishing in an edition-based format, publishers still prefer to offer an edition-based advertising experience as it echoes the print format.
The placement of advertising is at a really critical point – moving away from a flatplan model and using a more rotational model is definitely the way to go. Less readers are reading content in a linear way now, they are moving around a lot more, meaning that if an ad is in page 20 of the publication but your reader jumps from page 6 to page 30, the ad will be missed. There’s a lot to be said for taking some of the online models of advertising and applying them to these editions (but making sure to use full screen ads). We’re even starting to see full screen ads on web now, in image galleries and in apple formats. There is certainly lots more to come here – I think we will see more and more full screen ads, because you can charge a lot more because it’s more effective. So we will see a lot more of these.
How long do you see it taking before all app activity will be bought on a programmatic basis?
Not long. I think it is very close. Publishers should be able to get to the point where they’re producing content, inserting some sort of code and only selling premium advertising – because there is just too much content and too much advertising for it all to be done manually. One of the issues we have with programmatic is doing it live – what we are looking at is how we can actually get ads downloaded in advance so users aren’t swiping past blank pages. This is a challenge right now as the user is generally not sitting on a page, they tend to be navigating and browsing. The Telegraph have been looking at this recently and have got to the stage where their full page interstitials just need to be pre-requested ‘x’ amount of pages before they come into view, to make sure latency isn’t an issue. And for times when a user has bandwidth issues, they have written in several redundancy methods to show a backup type of advert – meaning that the user will never see a blank screen. Programmatic advertising is absolutely the way almost everything will go before the end of this year. Standard IAB formats such as leaderboard and mpu are already majority traded in programmatic and full page interstitials will be added to this list. However, there will always be a place for hi-end custom build ads for branding and engagement purposes which can’t be achieved on a programmatic model.
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