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Why advertising innovation needs a steady hand behind it

Spyro Korsanos, CEO at Mediasyndicator, discusses why publishers and advertisers need to co-operate to manage the hype behind automated advertising technologies and ensure the value of human judgement does not become underestimated.

By Spyro Korsanos

It has always been the creativity of advertising and publishing professionals who bring online marketing to fruition that has attracted me to the display industry. How media is monetised is forever advancing and its people have been at the heart of its excellent momentum. A combination of energy, exciting ideas and the challenge of resolving the complex process of making campaigns as engaging as possible propelled the online display marketing industry to a successful year in 2012.

Despite a never ending stream of stories in the media reminding us of the financially tumultuous times in which we live, Forrester said European online display ad spend for 2012 stood at around €4.8 billion ($6.2 billion), with an expected growth rate of 13% to €7.7 billion by 2016.

The word ‘monetise’ in itself sometimes gives campaigns a more mercenary air than they actually deserve; monetisation of publisher sites has evolved from simple online ads, into content that uses a variety of mechanisms to improve the consumer’s web experience when visiting a particular web page. Rather than the old static banners of days gone by, online display advertising now comes in a range of formats – including interactive ads that make campaigns much more engaging or entertaining. The best campaigns are in the right editorial environment for the target audience.

Successful brand advertising is an art, yet with increasing science, but still art – sparked by the creativity of the people behind it. However much of the discussion behind display’s boom was based around the advances in automated technologies. While the advances in technology have been welcomed by both publisher and advertiser sides of the display mix, what perhaps wasn’t discussed enough over the past twelve months was the human interaction still required to maximise this innovation’s potential.

Brilliant innovation is best complemented by the ever-growing creative experience of professionals who understand how best to monetise online media and embrace this technology. In the same way, creativity alone does not breed the retargeting technologies publishers and advertisers are increasingly using these days. Nor does it enable the automation that real time bidding has brought to the table in terms of monetising remnant inventory. So both aspects should be viewed as part and parcel of a successful approach to advertising.

This brings to mind one of the biggest no-nos for publishers and advertisers alike - an over reliance on technology breeding poorly positioned ads that fail to serve their purpose through their placement in front of irrelevant audiences. Removing the value of human judgement and relying solely on automation means errors in block lists can be overlooked and the appropriateness of each ad placement for the brand in question can be disregarded.

Maximising the value of advertising campaigns on a publisher’s site is not something that can be achieved simply by the product of algorithm, but should be delivered with the considered consultancy of experienced professionals. As the industry builds on the successes of 2012, publishers should be building a welcoming and happy home for advertising, which will in turn maximise their returns from it – a goal that cannot be reached through technology alone.