Direct Marketing Article
Interactive Ecommerce Advertising is the New
By Kirk Davis, EVP and Co-Founder of Liquidus
For consumers who use smartphones or tablets to manage more and more of
their daily lives, they expect a certain level of interaction. Images and
content are expected to be dynamic and can be expanded or manipulated at
will. This desire contrasts sharply to the model of online advertising that
remains a flat and static image combined with text. Interactive online ads
are a dynamic alternative that are improving in quality at a rapid pace,
moving towards custom-produced commercials that give consumers access to the
right product in less time.
Better Consumer Engagement
Interactive ads in this context allow the viewer to choose various options
within the actual banner. Perhaps they can select merchandise for a closer
review, click between different color options, or choose advanced options
such as voice narration. If viewing a sales ad for a clothing retailer, the
customer could sort by "men's" or "women's" apparel, then by "tops" or
"pants". Once their desired list of clothing is narrowed, the customer could
watch a high-quality video which shows the cut and fit of each piece. They
could see the white top with the green pants, or vice versa. All of this is
done within the banner, without leaving the publisher site.
Interactive ads that enable image zooming or panning not only provide a way
to better view merchandise, they can also simply be a fun diversion for
customers who always have an expectation of entertainment.
Customers that browse merchandise within the banner also save more time when
they proceed to the advertiser's main site. Armed with more knowledge, they
are able to quickly navigate and are less likely to perform every ecommerce
provider's worst nightmare – shopping cart abandonment.
Publishers Enjoy the Stickiness Factor
For ad publishers, interactive ads allow viewers to remain on the site while
they peruse merchandise. By not jumping to the advertiser's site, the viewer
is exposed to more of the content and ads on the publisher site, increasing
the chances of clicking other ads, and engaging with the publisher's own
Publishers also benefit from increased engagement rates for interactive ads
which, according to Double Click, are often more than five times those of
traditional rich media ads, regardless of vertical. Viewers spend more time
with a video-driven ad, with up to 50 percent greater "stickiness". This
increase in engagement results in a pre-qualification of customers, where
the click-through rates might not be higher, but their propensity to
ultimately make purchases is markedly increased.
Advertisers looking for lowered cost and efficiency can find both through
interactive ads. Advertisers can typically utilize their existing photo
catalog to populate their ads. A car dealership that has 10 shots of every
car on its lot can get extra value out of the images by using them for their
online advertising inventory. By adding a moving component to static images,
advertisers lend some excitement to their products without incurring the
additional expense of producing and editing full-motion video.
While this type of online ad format is certainly not brand new, it is
maintaining a sense of newness because of all the new functionalities that
are constantly being introduced (automated voiceovers and custom graphics)
making them better and better at grabbing consumer attention, enabling
better conversions and brand awareness. More customer interaction options
within the banner also mean more reporting metrics that can be analyzed to
find hidden customer preferences or desires.
Finding the Right Partner
Cutting edge ad services can provide advertisers with engaging banner
content on the right publisher site. Connecting the advertiser's inventory
to a database via a simple API allows real-time updates to products and
merchandise that appear in interactive ad banners. For example, if a baby
and toddler product retailer discontinues a lime green baby stroller from
its database, that change can be automatically reflected in its entire
network of video ads. When an online shopper comes to a publisher page with
that retailer's ad, it is automatically called up, with video rendered on
This automatic updating of banner content is a very strategic option for
retailers as they can dynamically manage pricing and selection without
redoing creative content. Customer annoyance is avoided by not offering
outdated merchandise, and sales items can also be timed to exactly mirror
online or brick and mortar sales.
The latest ad serving technology allows the interactive ads to deliver
professional quality at nominal cost. Professional narration can be included
in the ads to describe product details, such as a description of an
automobiles luxury and standard features. Advanced platforms can pull all of
this updated information in less than a second.
To provide ads that fit rapidly changing consumer desires, it's all about
expectations. The consumer wants customizable information that is
attractively and clearly presented to help them quickly decide if a product
holds their interest or not. The trick for advertisers will be to continue
the evolution of the online ad to match these expectations through faster
and even more interactive advertising vehicles.
About the Author:
Kirk Davis is EVP and Co-Founder of
responsible for the development and management of the Liquidus client base.
He has 25 years of experience in the marketing industry in the areas of
online marketing, promotions, sponsorships, direct marketing, events and
advertising. He has serviced companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Amoco, AT&T,
Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, Jack Daniels, M&M/Mars, Chrysler, Kraft and
more from the agency side. In the interactive arena, Davis began executing
his first Web-development projects as early as 1995 for Bacardi-Martini,
USA. He became Director of Interactive Marketing in 1996 for Flair
Communications, Inc., working with a large stable of Fortune 500 clients. In
1999 he became VP of Marketing for an online marketing
research/consumer-privacy company, helping it through funding and start-up
phases, and became a Liquidus Principal in 2002.