New Display Advertising Units Boosts Engagement!

No one readily admits to liking advertising — at least not the kind that pops up when you’re on a news site, blocking the story you’re trying to read. But monitor a reader’s unconscious response and a somewhat different story emerges… When I read this blog post over at I found it very interesting and dug down into the story:

The Online Publishers Association (OPA) announced in March a new initiative designed to help stimulate a renaissance of creative advertising on the Internet meeting the needs of marketers by better integrating their messages into the fabric of the Web.

The proposed new advertising units was:

  • The Fixed Panel (recommended dimension is 336 wide x 860 tall), which looks naturally embedded into the page layout and scrolls to the top and bottom of the page as a user scrolls.
  • The XXL Box (recommended dimension is 468 wide x 648 tall), which has page-turn functionality with video capability.
  • The Pushdown (recommended dimension is 970 wide x 418 tall), which opens to display the advertisement and then rolls up to the top of the page.

These new advertising units reflect the publishers’ desire to achieve four key objectives that will guide the evolution of online display advertising into its next phase:

  1. Inspire creativity and high-quality advertising: Develop display units that will inspire a creative renaissance in high-quality advertising by providing a larger canvas for creativity, content and functionality.
  2. Provide a greater share of voice for the advertiser: Increase the relative proportion of advertising space (in a single unit) to editorial content and, where possible, run fewer but more captivating ads on the page.
  3. Introduce a measurement to capture impact: Develop a metric that emphasizes the impact creative advertising can have on Web viewers while preserving the Internet’s well-established ability to engender response.
  4. Enhance interactivity to build user engagement with brands: Offer a broad range of interactivity built into units such as video players, lead capture and advertiser content that will be sharable and have permalinks to spotlight and encourage the best in creativity, while weaving the advertisements deeper into the social fabric of the Web.

Of course, the old standard way to measure an ad’s impact – the click-through rate, still exists, but doesn’t tell you anything about how successful the ad might be at promoting a favorable impression of the brand. Engagement rates, Dwell rates etc. is of course one example of trying to measure ad impact, but doesn’t cover it completely.

Therefore OPA engaged the services of a firm called InnerScope Research, which uses biometric techniques to track a subject’s eye movements and correlate them to changes in heart rate, breathing and sweat production — the signs of an unconscious emotional response. In a study designed by InnerScope, 100 subjects were invited to browse news content on three websites (, and, which were populated by ads for nine different brands in the three new formats.

What the researchers found was that 90 percent of participants looked at an ad within the first 10 seconds of exposure; that subjects’ eyes came to rest on each ad an average of 15 times; and that 67 percent of them went back to look at the ad after the 10-second mark. They also found that participants demonstrated a stronger emotional response to the ad than to other areas of the page, and that that, on average, they rated their own reaction to the ads as favorable.

“One of the question people had when we introduced these units was ‘Are they going to be intrusive?’ And one of the things that’s exciting was that they’re not intrusive,” says Pam Horan, OPA’s president. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never seen a research study whee the consumer has admitted to liking the advertising.”

By now you may be wondering how the response to the ad units compares to the way consumers respond to standard ad units. Unfortunately, there’s no answer to be had here. “We were specifically looking to capture the impact of these ads,” says Horan, explaining why they chose not to establish any kind of baseline that might help to place the significance of the study’s findings into context. “We felt like we would be comparing apples to, you know, giraffes.”

Source: OPA &

Copenhagen INK

Lars M. B. Anthonisen is Global Account Lead @ Google. Previously, he held various digital marketing positions at media companies across Europe and Asia including Regional Digital Director at MediaCom APAC, CMO at Adform and Digital Manager at Universal McCann Worldwide.

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