CPG Marketing Trends: Digital Gets Complicated: The Evolution of Digital Advertising

Ask almost any advertiser and they will agree: digital advertising has changed drastically over the past few years. Not only has ad spend increased significantly—eMarketer forecasts a 10.5% rise in spending this year alone—but the way advertisers approach digital spend is different.

Take a glance back just a few years ago and banner ads were king. Finding the right site was the pivotal part of the campaign. However, present day consumers have developed “ad blindness” to standard ads. Banners—even when served to them on the right site—can be ignored if they don’t reach them in a highly engaging manner or at just the right time.

As a result, ad capabilities are constantly evolving to encompass more, including larger expanding units, longer videos and social integrations. Additionally, marketers have become more educated on how to ensure each banner is targeted to just the right consumer. Gone are the days of mass impressions. Now campaigns are able to utilize contextual and behavioral targeting, but also real-time retargeting in order to serve highly relevant messages.

In an AdWeek article, Jay Millwood examined the difficult digital environment for marketers. He writes, “Consumers have become increasingly numb to banner ads, and marketers have had to look at new levels of metrics to measure effectiveness, engagement and ROI.”

The article examines how campaigns have started to evolve in order to best reach target audiences. Says Millwood, “…technology providers and agencies are moving beyond one-size-fits-all marketing into a version of narrowcasting that focuses messages and offers to highly specific segments with highly specific interests.”

The change in digital audience behaviors has led to the rise of re-targeting capabilities, or targeting online ads to consumers based on their prior search history, as well as contextual and behavioral targeting. Personalization of ad serving allows advertisers to ensure they are reaching the right consumer at a relevant time instead of wasting impressions. If someone is on a website searching for dinner options, even after they have left that site they might be served an ad featuring an ingredient for the recipe they were considering.

Once advertisers have determined the correct person to talk to through re-targeting or behavioral/contextual targeting, the next big step is engaging them with their message. Of course a strong call to action is important, but integration is also key. This can be accomplished through rich media and in-banner video or standard banners and sponsored edit on the site.

Are you doing everything you can to get the right message in front of your target audience? How hard is your ad campaign working for you? Are you reaching the consumers you want? A great way to get your message in front of your target audience is to spend some time researching their digital habits.


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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