Over the last few weeks I’ve written about various types of ad formats, from mobile and video to social media ads, which all strive to reach and connect with online audiences in new ways. With other innovations such as RTB still going strong and the IAB unveiling new ad display units in February, online advertising is continuously developing and inventing fresh formats to regain the attention of ad-savvy online consumers, in search of that ever-elusive high click-through rate or consumer engagement resulting in, at best, conversion.
I recently came across an old WSJ article from 2006 on in-text advertising– where key words are bought by an advertiser, and embedded hyperlinked into textual content- which was making ripples at the time in the online advertising world. Hard news journalists, editors and commentators decried the ad format, as it went against the ethical journalistic code of keeping editorial content separate from advertisements.
Interestingly, in-text ads were thought to be acceptable in soft-news or entertainment sites, as the stakes for their integrity and credibility were not necessarily as high as those of hard news stories. Nonetheless, the fear was that the line between editorial and advertising would be blurred, damaging the integrity of online news organizations and causing readers to flock away from sites they now deemed untrustworthy.
This fear, though not unfounded, grossly underestimated the intelligence of online readers. Online audiences, then as now, are perceptive enough to realize what’s editorial and what’s advertising, and the underlined words that denote in-text ads are relatively easy to avoid if readers want to concentrate purely on the story they are reading.
What is important, however, is to ensure that the in-text ads are relevant to the content. The WSJ article outlines a few examples of where in-text ads have appeared out of context, which can be damaging to the advertising brand in question, as well as distasteful for the publisher. plista’s InText RecommendationAds avoid this by using behavioral targeting, which means the ads link to relevant content and offer further information- in line with the plista principle, ‘you might also find this interesting…’- to the article the user is reading. The InText RecommendationAds are also unobtrusive, as the links only come up when the user scrolls over them.
Quoted in the WSJ article was a spokeswoman for publisher Dow Jones & Co, who stated that in-text ads interrupted the reader experience. But if the in-text ads are unobtrusive and offer more information on or relevant links to the subject I am reading about, I welcome the so-called interruption; after all, browsing the web is just that, being referred from website to website, with a little help. If the ads are relevant, in-text ads can complement and even enhance the web browsing experience. plista’s RecommendationAds bring the concept of search and reader interests into the frame of the content the reader is viewing. Even the ever-elusive high click-through rate becomes attainable; plista’s RecommendationAds have an average click-through rate of 7,4%.
Online advertising will continue to develop at a rapid pace, with the next big new ad format or innovation just around the corner. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember the cornerstones: key is, as always, relevancy to the user. If the ad is relevant to the content the reader is looking at, instead of interrupting the reader experience, it is enriching it. In addition, of course, to increasing the amount of time visitors spend on a publisher’s website, and the click-through rates and engagement levels for advertisers. Interested?
Find out more about InText RecommendationAds and RecommendationAds