We’ve come a long ways since our Digitas’ sister agency Modem created the world’s first online banner for AT&T in October 1994:
Not so long ago, prompted by the advent of broadband and new rich media possibilities for online advertising, there was a lot of discussion about what the “ad unit of the future” would be online. I guess the thinking was that more or less one unit (the 30 second spot) had sufficed for long enough on telly, so why should we need more than one video style ad unit online. Truth is, a lot of people were simply looking for ways of posting a tv spot online with a bit of interactivity around it.
It hasn’t played out that way, of course. In so far as there is a dominant online ad unit, I guess that would have to be paid search. Meanwhile the forms of online advertising continue to proliferate and develop, and much of the creativity now goes into choosing a format and constant innovation, not just perfecting a standard formula.
I like to think the real change going on is not the shift to a standard unit, but the move away from interruptive messaging altogether. In the UK, for example, while overall ad spending online is going up at an annual rate of 40%, the spend on pop-ups and the like is going down at the rate of almost 10% a year and now accounts for less than 1% of all online budgets. At least we now know that the interruptive push marketer’s favourite ad unit is an ad unit of the past.
- Mark Beeching, Digitas Chief Creative Officer