A review of 300 articles from the last decade of online ad research calls for a practical focus.
Since the first banner ads in 1994, online advertising has grown to account for 41% of total ad spending across more than a dozen formats, a total of $209 billion in 2017. Referring back to similar reviews in 2008, this paper breaks the field into 6 key areas and surveys progress and future questions in each.
Highlighted in particular is the need for more work on measuring the effectiveness of online ads. Earlier consensus around their superiority to offline media has been questioned by more recent findings, which show variation between categories and segments, and examine the quality of visual attention to digital ads. The sequencing of exposure to different media is thought to be important and needs to be understood better.
It ends by making broader recommendations. Researchers should do more to develop general theories to guide this young subject and engage with more diverse experimental methods, such as those involving neuroscience and physiology. It also calls for an increased focus on real world implications for firms and practitioners. This should include new skill requirements, altered client-agency relationships and changes to organisational culture.
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[30 minute read; article may be behind a paywall]