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Can Social Media Boost Click-Through Rates for Banner Advertising?

For years, Eyeblaster and others have reported that click-through rates for traditional banner advertising have been plummeting (averaging now only around 0.2%). Marketers have answered this downward trend by applying increasingly sophisticated targeting schemes as a way to deliver more relevant advertising experiences and produce higher levels of engagement. Avenue A | Razorfish and Pluck have teamed up to take a decidedly different approach to banner advertising, an approach they hope will boost click-throughs and breath new life into the widely-embraced yet under-performing banners.

Last week, the two companies unveiled "AdLife," a new ad format that will incorporate social media features, such as reviews, comments, ratings, and user-generated video, into IAB standard banner advertising units. The impact of social media on attitudes towards brands and buying decisions is well documented. AdLife will attempt to bring this dynamic to display advertising and offer website visitors "creative" that is packaged content submitted by other consumers. Using social media features and content may not only provide website visitors with a new kind of experience that sparks attention, but may also entice consumers to engage directly in the conversation about the brand, product or service. 

Global Social Media VP at Avenue A | Razorfish, Shiv Singh, says "It's clear that consumer want a strong voice in the conversation with the marketer... AdLife will enable consumer participation and social influence inside the billions of impressions received by traditional digital ad units like banner ads."

While an interesting idea and an ambitious experiment, AdLife undoubtedly faces some challenges.

  • Social media is a phenomenon that is usually a byproduct of online gathering places, communities, where consumers congregate and feel part of something - a website, a social network, a widget application connected to other users, etc. To abstract this social behavior and try to replicate in the context of website real estate consumers are conditioned to avoid may be very difficult.
  • Social media requires a degree of authenticity and transparency that might not be palatable to the brand paying for the ad placement. If consumer reviews, ratings and comments have any chance of engaging website visitors, they much be perceived as the real deal. It will be very interesting to see how AdLife walks this line.

Despite these obvious challenges, it is crystal clear that consumer expectations have shifted and there is a need to develop new marketing tactics that facilitate conversations between consumers and brands. The folks at Avenue A | Razorfish and Pluck seem to be headed in the right direction. 

August 11, 2008 | Permalink

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