Move over, plain old Flash. Rich media display ads are taking over, according to Google’s latest display benchmark report. Rich media ads served on Google’s DoubleClick platform increased twofold in 2010, taking 18 percent of the ad server’s business, the company reported. Animated Flash ads decreased from 74 percent to 54 percent and static image ads comprised 28 percent of the market last year.
Rich media ads are defined as ads with an interaction beyond a simple click-through—users can roll over to expand the ad or watch a streaming video, for example. The style has increased in popularity as improvements in technology and bandwidth have made the complex format easier to implement, including on mobile devices and tablets.
AOL’s premium ad product, Project Devil, for example, is betting on higher engagement through rich media ads which behave like portals rather than banners. The company has said its engagement rates are six times higher than the regular display ads AOL’s advertising business serves.
But perhaps disconcerting to rich media evangelists is that the doubling of these kinds of ads had no effect on response and engagement rates, which have remained, since 2009 when Google began publishing its benchmark reports, at a paltry 0.09 percent. Web users simply do not click on display ads, no matter the type, according to the report, written by Pamela Eng, product marketing manager at Google. Beyond that, global expansion rates have fallen from their peak at 4.08 percent in April 2009 to 1.32 percent year-end 2010. The numbers are worst in the U.S., where just 1 percent of Web users expand rich media ads. In-stream video completion rates have remained flat at about 76 percent.
Google’s latest display advertising benchmark report was released in conjunction with the launch of Watch This Space, an advertiser-focused website dedicated to detailed benchmark data.