How Digital Advertising Will Change in 2017

digital advertising

2016 was a year of turmoil for digital advertising.

The widespread adoption of ad blocking software became a hot topic and is only expected to continue plaguing existing revenue models. In fact, $27 billion in revenue is expected to be lost by 2020.1

Unsurprisingly so, considering 75% of participants from a 2015 study by Business Insider Intelligence claimed they used ad blocking software because of the interruptive nature of ads, with 55% even specifying ads as annoying.2

Reflecting the changing landscape and needs of the market, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is finalizing its first set of ad unit standards since 2012.3

“Technology and the user experience is changing, and we are reacting to the needs of the market [to make ads] cross-screen, holistic and adaptive,” said Alanna Gombert, GM of the IAB Tech Lab.4

So, what’s in store for 2017?

Mobile Rethink
To start, The IAB wants mobile video ads to be user-initiated.

Because of significant data consumption and the intrusive nature of video ads on mobile – which take up the entire screen – video ads that are not part of a streamed video, dubbed outstream ads, are no longer a standard.

If anything, this aligns with recent publisher strategies to increase their video content libraries, thereby creating more non-outstream ads.

Additionally, The IAB set maximum data limits for all ad types and established a standard placement for close buttons on all mobile ads.

However, the most impactful change was the introduction of aspect ratio guidelines for cross-screen advertising. Previous unit sizes based on pixels are now replaced with aspect ratio units such as the 300×250 box becoming a 1:1 ratio.5

Indeed, this shift will create a smoother process for bidding on cross-screen advertisements.

The need to only spend on the creation of a singular ad unit that can be used across devices will allow brands to spend more on actual bidding – potentially boosting publisher revenue.6

Emerging Formats
The new IAB standards also include guidelines for newer content formats including augmented reality, virtual reality, 360-degree video, vertical video as seen in Snapchat, and emojis.7

While many of these formats are still emerging, the surprisingly thorough guidelines will help steer their development, ultimately alleviating limited ad inventory concerns.

For example, emoji ad standards recommend dimension, aspect ratio, and file size. Likewise, they also must “differentiate from regular content emojis”.8

Vertical video ad standards recommend a minimum number of frames per second and durational restrictions up to 30 seconds, with 8-12 seconds recommended. It also has feature standards such as default muting and recommended text overlay for copy.

Summing up what’s in store, Alanna Gombert, GM of the IAB Tech Lab explains, “There will be less invasive ads and less [ad] content that’s in your face and annoying. Ads will be more seamless and optimized for the screen you’re seeing it on.”9

Reaching Millennials

1. Kharpal, Arjun. “Adblocking Will Cost Publishers A $27B by 2020:Study.” Tech Transformers CNBC. CNBC, 11 May 2016.
2. Intelligence, BI. “Regional Attitudes toward Ad Blocking.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 19 Apr. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
3. Sluis, Sarah. “Rising Star No More: IAB To Sunset Intrusive Ads.” AdExchanger. N.p., 28 Sept. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.