Are Reports of the 'Death of Display Ads' Greatly Exaggerated?
A session at the recent Publishing Business Virtual Conference & Expo, "Surviving the Death of Display Ads," considered the changing role of display ads in the context of sales strategies focused on newer formats such as social media, cross-platform marketing campaigns, branded content and lead generation.
Jay Lauf, publisher and vice president of The Atlantic, spoke of migrating to a digital-first strategy and what it has meant for advertising. Display ads are not dying, he said, noting that they are still the fastest-growing sub-category of ads on the Web. "Advertisers are always going to continue to … need mechanisms that can scale up and run across broad-reach opportunities"—which, he said, custom and branded content cannot do as well as display.
Publishers should focus on quality of creative rather than worrying about which formats may or may not be on the decline, he said. Still, Lauf showed several examples of how newer methods around customization and embedded content, which give marketers the chance to tell a deeper story to targeted audiences, have become very important to The Atlantic.
Scott Singer, managing director of Discover Digital Group, offered an overview of product development geared toward creating new revenue streams. Working with The Economist, Singer helped identify and implement an education product designed for a specific, under-targeted subset of the magazine's readers. The campaign focused on driving people to the site through social media and mobile. "You will see display ads, it's not going away," Singer said, "but I think getting those eyeballs and getting people engaged in your brand … allows for more creativity."
For The Saturday Evening Post, new ad approaches dovetail with attempts to rebrand the magazine. "One of our biggest hurdles is getting our advertising strategies in line with where we are editorially and as far as circulation is concerned," said Alex Durham, advertising director at the magazine. Doing this requires getting advertisers to understand and tailor ads to a target audience that skews younger, without alienating existing clients. An integrated approach is key to this, Durham said, as is licensing, which allows the magazine to leverage its iconic brand in new ways via new types of advertising and marketing.