Display Stumbles As Search Remains Strong
The NY Times has a wide ranging article that discusses online ad trends and the apparent weakening of the display segment, which is roughly 21 percent of online ad spending. The article discusses how marketers are looking for measurable results and concrete audiences, and in that context niche networks/sites are attracting ad dollars and general portals and blind ad networks are suffering. Search remains a healthy segment because of its perceived efficiency and efficacy.
There’s an ongoing debate about the relative merit of search and display, although both advertising types complement one another. Microsoft’s Atlas unit is leading a charge to more broadly distribute credit to other ad units in the purchase cycle, through a model it calls “engagement mapping.” The argument is that search gets too much credit for conversions, as the “last click” and other important contributors are obscured. Philosophically that’s essentially correct, but getting a clear sense of the relative contributions and value of all the ad units a consumer may have seen is very challenging.
Most brand advertisers are more interested in display advertising, generally speaking, than search because they’ve historically been skeptical of search as a display medium. It is, but they don’t see it that way. However, the addition of video to search results, and potentially other types of graphical ads in the future, will likely change those attitudes by bringing together the emotional and creative elements of traditional branding with the directional force of search marketing.