Advertisers, Pay Attention – Interactive Ads Boost Performance


Digital video advertising and other interactive formats are booming – but where should advertisers be turning their attention to stand out from the crowd? We caught up with Yahoo’s ad creative team to unearth the creative ad formats that work best for brands and explore just why they deliver such strong results.

The extent of the media industry’s resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic is now fully apparent. Global ad spend bounced back by an impressive 15.6% last year, driven by increased spending through digital channels.


One of the most significant trends driving the growth in digital advertising is the continued rise of interactive ad formats

And that digital advertising investment is expected to hit 60% of the total for the first time in 2022 as people spend longer online, both shopping and being entertained. Across all devices, the average internet user aged 16-to-64 is online for six hours and 58 minutes per day, according to a recent report.

One of the most significant trends driving the growth in digital advertising is the continued rise of interactive ad formats, including video advertising. In Europe, especially, the digital video market is showing marked acceleration and now accounts for close to 40% of all display spend. Analysts predict that innovations in video quality will continue to fuel this development.

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It’s no coincidence that digital video advertising and other interactive formats are booming because this is driven by clear user demand. If they’re not buying products online then they’re viewing and interacting with video and other immersive content across trusted news sources, social media platforms, entertainment and gaming channels. It makes sense, then, that advertisers are turning to video and interactive advertising formats to attract the attention of these users.

The research gap

In recognition of the growing impact and effectiveness provided by online advertising formats, Yahoo partnered with Magna and IPG to show just how interactive ads grab a user’s attention in a world where increasing numbers of brands are vying for consumers’ attention on their phone, computer and other digital screens.

These interactive ads come out on top at 49% when users were asked to describe why an ad grabbed their attention, according to The Interactive Effect – the study from Yahoo, Magna and IPG.

This followed on from findings that emerged from Yahoo’s own in-house ad creative team, which established that Carousels and the Native Tiles ad format were the clear winners for grabbing a user’s attention and driving better results for advertisers. The later research, in 2021, uncovered the same outcome. Carousels still remain the best way to drive interaction and engagement with a brand’s ad creative on desktop and mobile.

Yahoo’s ad creative team have unearthed more detail on the formats that work best for brands and just why they deliver such strong results.

High engagement with Carousels

Carousels remain the top feature to deliver high engagement within a brand’s ad creative on desktop and mobile, with interaction rates for advertisers, which include Renault in France, over 10 times higher than the next best feature, according to Yahoo Ad Creative Benchmarks, 2021.

“Carousels allow advertisers to convey multiple messages about their brands or products within the same experience and therefore help better inform and educate audiences,” explains Russ Williams, senior solutions engineer, Yahoo Creative Studios. “Video formats were also seen to have a high impact on engagement with two times better results than gamification.”

Keeping attention through video

Video also retained a significant proportion of the attention of audiences in 2021, with users spending on average 34 seconds interacting with an ad creative that included video, according to Yahoo. Spirits Kiosk, the specialist online shop offering a range of spirits, saw this level of uplift in a multi-market campaign booked through Yahoo’s UK team.

“Video is clearly the favorite when it comes to drawing users in for an extended period of time and offers variety when expanding the reach of campaigns due to the ability to combine display, native and video in one place,” says Williams.

Spirits Kiosk, the specialist online shop offering a range of spirits, saw this level of uplift in a multi-market campaign booked through Yahoo’s UK team.

“There’s no doubt that interactive ads perform better than static ones,” says Emile Ward, co-founder, Spirits Kiosk. “We feel like we’ve only tested a few ideas, but it’s clear that being able to show context and that it’s possible to make drinks at home easily is a big advantage from a retail point of view. Consumers often perceive cocktails as being complicated to do – interactive campaigns can help demonstrate what they can make, how, and with which brands in an engaging way that removes barriers. That context is where we found video to be a powerful tool.”

Winning with gamification

Gamified ads continue to perform well as a feature that delivers high engagement. Quizzes and branching narrative video formats are two emerging requested by advertisers, driven by the knowledge that gaming is one of the largest user habits to in the past two years.

“Embracing this new habit can help lead to greater brand awareness and deliver more of your message across key formats with users spending at average 13-seconds engaging with the ad,” says Williams.

Yahoo’s insights across 2021 continued to show that adding interactivity into digital advertising creative can really help boost performance. At a time when the media industry is calling for greater evidence of the effectiveness of specific formats, this should make advertisers sit up and pay attention.

Check out the Yahoo Ad Showcase to explore Yahoo’s full creative capabilities with real-world examples and to get started building campaigns with Ad Creative Tech.

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