BMW and Major League Soccer Are Testing ‘Expandable Teaser’ Ads

Undertone's latest format pops in and out

At a time when ad formats like banners and interstitials seem to be increasingly less effective, brands are trying to better balance user experience and marketing goals.

BMW and Major League Soccer have been quietly testing an ad unit that appears briefly across the screen before retracting back to the side of a publisher's website. Perion-owned Undertone, which created the format, is calling the cross-screen, mobile-first format an "Expandable Teaser."

According to Undertone co-founder Eric Franchi, the ad's style of appearing and then almost entirely disappearing is more likely to attract users who are actually interested in clicking to learn more. He said the ads also are some of the first that meet the IAB's LEAN Principles initiative that debuted last year. The guidelines aim to make digital ads lighter with data, encrypted and less invasive.

For example, with the BMW ad, which the auto brand worked on with Universal McCann, two cars roll across half of the screen before the ad automatically retracts itself from view, leaving only a sliver left on the edge. And while most users who aren't looking to buy a BMW any time soon might be glad to avoid the pesky promo, the accompanying copy, "for once, the head has no argument with the heart," almost disappears too quickly, forcing the user to either read fast or click it back open for a second look.

 "It's designed with the mobile experience in mind," Franchi told Adweek, "with a consumer that's scrolling, with a consumer that's moving quickly, where advertisers have literally a second to capture a consumer's attention."

According to Undertone, brands testing the unit have seen promising results in beta. Third-party measurement conducted by Moat reported an average viewability rate of 90 percent, along with 72 percent branded recall. Users who clicked to expand the ad did so at a rate of between 1.4 and 3.5 percent, with an interaction rate from 1 to 2 percent.

"Consumers want choice," Franchi said. "But at the same time, if consumers are presented with a cool innovative ad, we know from all of the campaigns that we run, engagement rates are really high if you can nail creative."