25 years ago, the very first online ad was posted
The first digital ad was a banner ad that said, “Have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You will.” Presumptuous? Yes. Effective? Yes. The ad was for an online magazine, HotWired – now known as Wired. The banner had a click-thru rate (CTR) of 44%, compared to today’s average CTR of 0.06%. This is one of many shifts that have happened in the industry.

Look where the digital world is today
Most of our clients at Fifth Story recognize and prioritize content marketing to help them connect with their customers. We have seen a shift from traditional ad units to more strategic messaging and customized creative assets. I think this change is due to the fact that people have grown accustomed to seeing online ads. We are familiar with being served pop-unders, pop-overs, full-site takeovers, etc. In the past, if a digital ad’s creative was engaging we had the option to close the ad. Personally, I did not mind seeing the larger and more intrusive ads units until autoplay ads hit the internet.

What is autoplay
Autoplay is a type of ad unit that can be served on a website that plays with sound automatically. I find these ads extremely disruptive. If I want to watch an advertiser’s video, I’ll click on the ad. Apparently, I’m not the only person with this viewpoint. Michael McWatters penned his feelings about autoplay in his article that appeared on Medium.com called, « Autoplay Blues. » Read it here.

The digital world is on 24/7
I am accustomed to seeing ads all the time. When the ads are user-initiated, meaning the user clicks on the ad, that is ok with most people. When digital ads come to life on their own via autoplay, this interruption is usually unwanted and frankly, annoying. I find autoplay particularly bothersome when I am in open places using my laptop. Often, autoplay ads are difficult to pause or close, making the user experience unpleasant.

Leave it to Google to come up with a solution
Last April, Google Chrome began blocking ads by banning autoplay (with sound) on video, as well as pop-up and intrusive advertisements within their browser. Google Chrome blocks autoplay ads as a way to make the 82% of consumers who hate autoplay stick around. It is important to note that Chrome will allow some videos to autoplay in instances that Google has determined people have the highest likelihood of wanting to play videos with sound on. As Chrome studies the websites you frequent, your browser adapts to permit autoplaying on sites you frequently played videos with sound on, and disables autoplay on sites where you do not.

How do marketers use video to reach their customers
When you are shown video ads (or any ads for that matter, on any platform) that are relevant to your interests and/or needs, most people do not mind seeing them. In fact, ads that “fit” can enhance the overall user experience. According to a Video Marketing Survey by ReelSEO:

  • 93% of marketers use video
  • 84% are using video for website marketing
  • 60% are using video for email marketing
  • 70% are optimizing video for search engines
  • 70% will increase spend on video
  • 82% confirmed that video had a positive impact on their business.

Now that we understand the medium, we can focus on the message
Delivering the message by strategically using high-quality targeted content marketing within your ad unit(s) is just as important as where you run your ad(s). Having the ability and knowledge to focus your message to speak to your target audience means you are more likely to reach your customers. When all these components work together, they create a fabulous user experience and will have you well-positioned to reach your KPIs, without aggravating anyone.