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If you're a consumer, it may be difficult to believe that the next web page you visit might display the "perfect ad." After all, ads can be annoying at worst, and at best, you simply don't even notice them.

But according to Google's VP of Display Advertising, Neal Mohan, "there's a perfect ad for everyone." In a post on the Official Google Blog, he suggests "We’re at the beginning of a user-focused revolution, where people connect and respond to display ads in ways we’ve never seen before," and makes six predictions about the future of online advertising.

They are:

  • The number of display ad impressions will decrease by 25% per person.
  • Engagement rates across all display ads will increase by 50%.
  • People will have a direct say in 25% of the ads they see.
  • 35% of campaigns will primarily use metrics beyond clicks and conversions.
  • 25bn ads per day will tell people why they are seeing them.
  • Over 40% of online Americans will name display ads as their favorite ad format.

Let's look at each of these.

The number of display ad impressions will decrease by 25% per person

While it's nice to believe that in the future, there will be a move "for people to ultimately see fewer, but better ads," there's really no reason to think that this is a realistic expectation. The CPM pricing model, which isn't going away, gives publishers no incentive to significantly decrease the amount of display inventory they create.

And barring a complete reversal in the CTRs and conversions display ads produce, advertisers have little incentive to seek less inventory and more costly inventory (in terms of both the inventory itself and the creative developed for it).

Engagement rates across all display ads will increase by 50%

According to Mohan, "As ads become less cluttered, more relevant, more engaging and more attractive, we’ll see the rate at which people interact with display ads (such as watching videos or playing games) increase dramatically".

Again, this is a nice thought, but it makes a fundamental assumption that consumers want "engaging" and "attractive" ads. All Mohan has to do is perform a search for 'video ads annoying' to see that the more "engaging" the ads, the more consumers tend to hate them.

People will have a direct say in 25% of the ads they see

Citing the fact that Google gives consumers the ability to set some advertising preferences, Mohan suggests that consumers will eventually be given a greater opportunity to choose which types of ads they see and don't see.

But there's a problem: if everybody is given the ability to easily opt out of the most engaging (read: annoying) ads, publishers and advertisers will lose out. Therefore, it's unlikely consumers will be given meaningful control over the ads they see.

35% of campaigns will primarily use metrics beyond clicks and conversions

This prediction may be realistic. Marketing attribution is gaining steam, and growing number of advertisers understand that they have to look beyond the simplest metrics and last clicks to figure out how their multichannel campaigns are really working.

But will there soon come a time when more sophisticated metrics are the "primary metrics used to measure the success of a campaign?" That's debatable. At the end of the day, the time and cost involved in developing and using more sophisticated metrics will in some instances outweigh the perceived benefits.

25bn ads per day will tell people why they are seeing them

Google thinks the Ad Choices logo, which was created in part to help the industry keep regulators at bay, and notifications like it, "will become ubiquitous" by 2015.

Even if that turns out to be an accurate prediction, it's unclear what real impact this would have on display advertising. After all, if most consumers are ignoring display ads, notifications about why they're seeing them will be ignored too.

Over 40% of online Americans will name display ads as their favorite ad format

Mohan writes:

We recently conducted a survey with YouGov of more than 1,000 U.S. Internet users, asking them what ad formats they liked. The number of people who said they preferred display ads trailed slightly behind the number who liked glossy magazine ads, cinema ads and even sky-writing—formats that have been around for more than 50 years!

Here, Mohan and Google really show that they have their blinders on. At worst, consumers don't like 'advertising.' At best, they're ambivalent about it and treat it as the price of admission for accessing content without having to pay for it.

Predicting that display ads, which are generally seen as suffering from the greatest amount of ad blindness, will be the 'favorite ad format' is sort of like predicting that in the future, the root canal will be the 'favorite dental procedure.'

Patricio Robles

Published 13 June, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2476 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Clare Brace

"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."

A perfect ad for everyone… oh course not. But I’m sure pleasing the majority has it profit margins. This is of course assuming this is with reference to a single ad format for all people rather than intelligent advertising on a per consumer basis.

Ultimately, there is little Google can do about the majority of consumer ignoring display advertising or is this perhaps part of the evolution of this form of advertising?

almost 6 years ago


Nichola Finan

I think Google should be less prescriptive about the way in which it thinks people will view, assimilate, interact and engage with advertising formats in future. The momentum we have been seeing for the last 5-years is consumer led, technology supported. Advertising could probably do with it's own renaissance, and not hang onto the traditional objectives and metrics.

almost 6 years ago

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