Advertisers typically pay more money for larger ads, but as it turns out, brands may want to save their money when it comes to buying ads that grab viewers' attention. 

According to a new study by Dynamic Logic, trusty half banners and rectangles integrated into the content of a website still perform best online.

Ad effectiveness still comes down to the quality of creative, but with display ads, integrating advertising into editorial content may be more important than simply ratcheting up the size of an ad.

Advertisers are forever looking for disruptive formats to combat the prevalence of banner blindness onilne, but bigger doesn't always mean better. 

According to Dynamic Logic, placement is more important. Smaller ads integrated into the copy of a web page are more effective at driving consumer awareness than skycraper and leaderboard ads that frame the page.

The ad-effectiveness measurement firm looked at 2,390 online display campaigns that took place over the past three years and found that half banners (234 x 60) and rectangles (180 x 150) performed best.

According to Ken Mallon, senior VP-custom solutions at Dynamic Logic, "It's generally thought that bigger is better when it comes to ad sizes. But the study is saying 'We're not sure.'"

However, good creative is still more important than both size and placement. And the new bigger and more dynamic advertising that publishers are currently testing to get readers' attention have not been around long enough to be included in the study. Mallon tells MediaPost:

"We continue to believe that creative quality is the most important factor driving the success of online advertising. However, it will be interesting to see how the new, larger ad formats that publishers are beginning to debut will rank next to the more traditional online ad formats. Based on the current data, bigger doesn't always mean better, but these new ad formats are quite unique and we look forward to testing them."

Ad formats will continue to change as brands and publishers try to attract viewers' attention online. But one thing seems apparent. A reliance on Flash is not helping online.

The study found that rich media ads with video had the strongest brand impact, while ads made with simple Flash were the worst performers.

Unfortunately, Flash is still the format used most often by agencies and advertisers.

Image: Dynamic Logic

Meghan Keane

Published 20 August, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (4)

Rob Innes

Rob Innes, Director at Wyoming

"We continue to believe that creative quality is the most important factor driving the success of online advertising."

I'd have thought, alignment of audience and offer at least as important as creative in driving success?

Regarding the size of online display positions, I believe the less is more finding also applies to press advertising too.

almost 9 years ago

Mihkel Jäätma

Mihkel Jäätma, Founding Partner at Realeyes

The success measure here is a bit unclear: consumer awareness measured by what?

We just ran a big eye-tracking study of different formats of the same ad creative. Contrary to this article, in this case the clear winner was actually the physically biggest version of the ad.

In defining success we looked not only at captured visual attention, but also recall and user experience metrics.

almost 9 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy


Do you have a link to your study? Would love to read it. Best, Meghan

almost 9 years ago

Mihkel Jäätma

Mihkel Jäätma, Founding Partner at Realeyes


I truly hope to persuade the client to share the results, but it will still probably take weeks before everything is signed off properly. But the methodology of how we conduct such tests is described in this 'hypothetical' results document:

almost 9 years ago

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