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Studies Highlight Changing Nature of Ads

Two studies from AdRelevance, a Jupiter Media Metrix company, show a move away from traditional full-size banner ads and an emphasis on branding rather than achieving click throughs.

A study examining the type of ads being used found that although full-size banner ads remain the most widely used, more advertisers are buying smaller sizes as click throughs for full-size banners decline.

Eighty percent of advertisers use full-size banners, and 97 percent of sites support them. Still, micro buttons, short buttons and medium buttons are gaining ground.

AdRelevance found that 76 percent of sites support micro buttons, but only 16 percent of advertisers use them. Also, 25 percent of advertisers buy short buttons; 14 percent of sites purchase medium buttons; and 14 percent use half-banner ads.

Despite the popularity of full banner ads, the other ads collectively generate the majority of impressions, according to the study. While full banner ads account for 37 percent of user impressions, short buttons garnered a 19 percent share; micro buttons had 18 percent; half banners had 16 percent; medium buttons and tall buttons each received 4 percent; and short and vertical banners each had 1 percent of impressions.

The smaller ads are most popular in the retail industry, where they account for 70 percent of impressions.

“With sponsorships often on portals, retailers use smaller ad elements as branding mechanisms, which results in more impressions for these ads,” the study said.

Web media firms, travel companies and consumer goods companies also are heavy users of smaller sizes.

Although advertisers have the ability to create interactive banners, GIF animations are still the most popular.

“It appears that, while sites are making many efforts to accommodate newer technologies, advertisers remain grounded in the old standards,” the study said. Although advertisers complain about the effectiveness of banners, they should understand the self-imposed limits they create by confining themselves to fewer sizes and technologies, according to the report.

In another study, AdRelevance found that branding ads account for 63 percent of all online ads and 54 percent of all impressions.

“Online advertising is no longer just about click through,” said Charlie Buchwalter, vice president of media research at AdRelevance, Seattle. “Although industry and financial analysts have relied on click-through rates to gauge the effectiveness of online ad campaigns, the market has finally realized that click through is not an appropriate metric for brand-oriented ads.”

As more advertisers use streaming and rich media technology, the Internet will function more like a traditional branding medium, making advertising on the Web “more appealing to all, especially traditional companies who have mastered offline brand management strategies,” Buchwalter said.

Ads generating branding awareness garner the most impressions (33 percent), followed by ads positioning the brand (20 percent) and ads promoting a feature or benefit of a brand (1 percent).

Industries leading the branding charge include entertainment, with 73 percent of impressions devoted to branding; hardware and electronics, 83 percent; retail, 64 percent; Web media, 63 percent; automotive, 56 percent; and travel, 54 percent.

AdRelevance announced the study results in conjunction with its AdStrategy debut, a new measurement of competitors' online messaging strategies and intentions for advertisers.

With AdStrategy, media buyers and sellers can search for a particular advertiser, view the intentions of its ad and on which sites they choose to advertise. Ads are classified into five potential intention categories: positioning, awareness, feature/benefit, drive traffic or drive sales.

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