DoubleClick: Online Ads Grow in Size, But Opportunities Remain

The trend toward use of larger-sized ads with more movement and sound continues online, but promising tactics remain underused, according to a report from DoubleClick released yesterday.

Banners still account for the bulk of online ads at nearly 50 percent of all ads served, the Ad Serving Trends Report said. But skyscrapers, those tall, rectangular ads on the sides of Web page content, are growing in popularity as they accounted for more than 8 percent of ads served in the fourth quarter of 2002, up 93 percent from the first quarter.

Large rectangles placed within Web page content increased in use by 300 percent from the first quarter of 2002 to the fourth, but still account for just 2 percent of ad volume, according to the report, based on 630 billion ads from DoubleClick clients.

Ad sizes endorsed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau accounted for 70 percent of all ads served, boding well for the online ad industry's push toward standardization, DoubleClick said. However, the New York-based service provider still claims it served 11,000 different ad sizes in fourth-quarter 2002 alone.

Still, the report gave online marketers high marks for sophisticated planning. For example, just 25 percent of online advertising is done by run of network, DoubleClick said. However, 42 percent of ads DoubleClick served in fourth-quarter 2002 were targeted either by keyword or content.

“Publishers have learned how to segment the most valuable aspects of their inventory and are selling specific content areas to related advertisers or selling by keywords if they have that capability,” the report said.

Meanwhile, geographic targeting accounted for 6 percent of all ads served, the report said.

Targeting ads by time of day, a tactic often touted at online ad conferences as effective, accounted for just 1.44 percent of the online ad market in fourth-quarter 2002, up from 1.28 percent in the first quarter.

“Dayparting makes particular sense for news and sports sites, which are heavily viewed by the at-work audience, but the technique has yet to fully take off,” the report said.

In other findings, the use of rich media, advertising with sound, moving graphics and interactivity, rose 43 percent from 17.3 percent of all ads served during first-quarter 2002 to 24.9 percent in the fourth, DoubleClick reported.

Click-through rates on rich media ads were about 2.5 percent throughout 2002, compared with click-through rates for “non-rich media,” which fell from 0.41 percent in the first quarter to 0.27 percent in the third and fourth quarters.

Overall click-through rates averaged 7 percent throughout the year, DoubleClick said.

The report predicted the use of rich media will grow 10 percent per quarter in 2003.

As part of an ongoing campaign to get ad buyers to stop focusing on click-throughs as a measure of online advertising's effectiveness and attach value to online ads beyond their ability to drive immediate response, DoubleClick touted the so-called view-through rate in its report, or the percentage of users who take some sort of action within 30 days of viewing an ad.

View-through rates rose from 0.36 percent in first-quarter 2002 to 0.53 percent in the fourth quarter.

“This translates to more than five consumers per thousand who respond to an ad that they do not click on,” the report said. “Marketers who use click-throughs as the only response metric are missing these conversions.”

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