Investment in digital advertising is consistently rising. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), UK digital advertising expenditure grew by 16.6% to £3.462 billion in the first half of last year. By the end of 2015, it is expected that digital media will account for 50% of overall UK advertising spend. The platforms available to advertisers are getting more diverse. Search, video, social or display – almost every ad can be tracked and measured today. Thanks to programmatic buying via real-time-bidding or ad exchanges advertising campaigns can be targeted toward specific contacts on most platforms. But which platforms provide the most positive effects for advertisers?
We know that search-based advertising serves a different purpose to non-search-based ads. Its aim is to trigger an immediate sale rather than to generate general brand awareness and to increase demand generally. Less explored is the question of how the environment in which an ad is presented affects consumers’ perception of the brand or product promoted in the ad. This question has been addressed in a study of the Association of German magazine publishers (“VDZ”).
Perception: platform vs product
In the VDZ study, published on 16 March 2015, 8000 participants were asked about the image of more than 50 websites and the image of advertising campaigns run on these sites. They were questioned on 13 criteria, including competence, credibility, trustworthiness and likeability.
The results were clear: the more positive the perception of the site, the more positive the perception and evaluation of the brands and the products advertised on the site. According to the study, this relationship doesn’t work both ways: brand perception does not suffer where ads are placed on less favourably perceived sites. However, the study suggests that advertising on sites with good consumer associations increases advertising effectiveness. Sites with a reputable and safe image can have an impact on consumer trust in the advertised product.
Comparing functional, social and editorial media
In order to determine which types of websites provide particularly positive conditions for successful online-advertising, the study identified and distinguished between three main groups of digital media sites:
- Functional Media – sites that primarily offer the user tools for searching, shopping and communication such as Google, Amazon or GMX;
- Social Media – sites that mainly provide platforms for interaction and self-presentation such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and;
- Editorial Media – sites that author their own journalistic-editorial content in pictures, text and videos such as Spiegel Online, stern.de and focus.de
Source: Prime Site study part 1 (image profile) 2014
Comparing these groups in the context of the transfer of positive image from a website to presented brands, the VDZ study found that editorial media sites achieved significantly better scores in all relevant image dimensions. The professional content of editorial media sites scored better, in particular with plausibility, trust and likeability. Users trust professionally edited content more than user-generated content. Many editorial media sites also benefit from the good reputation of their parent company in the offline world. This would suggest that editorial media provides the highest prospect of transferring a positive image to brands advertised on the site.
Perhaps it is not surprising then, that we are beginning to see editorial media sites capitalise on their advertising inventory value. Last month saw the launch of the Pangaea Alliance, between The Guardian, CNN International, the Financial Times, Reuters and the Economist. These premium publishers will now be working together, sharing data and formats, to offer advertisers inventory via the Rubicon Project adtech platform. The Telegraph Media Group, Time Inc and Bauer Media have followed suit, collaborating through The Association of Online Publishers (AOP) to share audience targeting data and pool inventory with the help of adtech player AppNexus.