What does good online advertising look like?

Posted on: Wednesday 07 December 2016 | Amanda Harrison

Amanda Harrison, Marketing Manager at Flashtalking questions what good online advertising looks like.

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What does good online advertising look like? A question I ask myself on a daily basis. 

In an era where the majority of our time is spent looking at screens, it’s not surprising that these screens have become flooded with online ads at every opportunity possible. We’re exposed to an estimated 3,000 online ads per day, which is an astonishing number and emphasises the importance for ads to be good in order to be noticed. To get to this figure I googled ‘how many online ads do we see per day?’ and the results showed pages of articles with titles such as ‘cutting through advertising clutter’, ‘How to tune out the majority of ads’, ‘how to enable ad blockers’. 

Whilst I don’t blame advertisers for wanting to use these online advertising opportunities to promote brands and increase sales - I also don’t blame consumers for wanting to block the majority of them which swamp their computers on a daily, even hourly basis. John O’Toole, Former president, 4A’s once said ‘When executing advertising, it is best to think of yourself as an uninvited guest in the living room of a prospect who has the magical power to make you disappear instantly.’ 

When asked to describe what a ‘bad’ online ads look like, I could go on all day. I particularly dislike when you purchase a product online but are still shown an ad for it – why would you buy it twice? When you’ve never shown any interest in football online and you’re shown an ad promoting tickets for a match – a completely irrelevant ad for you. When an ad promotes a product that you could potentially be interested in, but it is the most generic mass-produced-looking ad with no creative engagement whatsoever. In my opinion, these ads are doing more damage to the brand than good - they are creating a negative association between you and the brand and you are actually less likely to buy these products since viewing the ad than before.

With this inundation of online ads and with so many ways for consumers to block them, the only solution advertisers have is to make their ads good. But the question is, what does ‘good online advertising actually look like?’ 

What is deemed good advertising has taken a 360 degree turn over the years – the creative aspect of an ad used to be the most important part. The CCO at Ogilvy & Mather Germany, Stephen Vogel, once said ‘nothing is more efficient than creative advertising. Creative advertising is more memorable, longer lasting, works with less media spending, and builds a fan community…faster.’ I agree to an extent, but surely the creative can only be efficient, memorable and long lasting if it’s shown to the relevant consumer and at the relevant part of that consumer’s path to purchase? The creative aspect of an ad alone without a doubt raises brand awareness - but for an online ad to lead to a conversion, the ad needs to display the right creative message, to the right person, at the right time. 

Today we are seeing a different issue; with the copious amounts of data available there has been so much emphasis on the importance of reaching the right audience that advertisers have actually forgotten about the importance of creative. Advertisers are churning out thousands of drab mass-produced online ads which are hitting the right audiences, at the right time but that have no impact on the consumers whatsoever. If an ad is boring, it is not memorable and why would a consumer purchase something that they don’t even remember? 

Good online ads are therefore ads which combine both creativity and data. They are personalised and relevant ads which are automated by logic and powered by data. Using data, advertisers can show a different creative ad message to each viewer, in real-time, on the fly.  

With the increase in data available for targeting the right consumers, it’s now equally as important to access the same data for compelling creative messaging that resonates with consumers on a personal level. 

Data should be used to locate and then target relevant users for advertisers’ products and the ads must be creative, engaging with strong impactful, relevant messaging. If this is possible to do, then why should consumers settle for anything less? With the constant advances in new and engaging ad formats such as 360 video, dynamic video and many more, we are able to bring back the creative in ads whilst at the same time target the relevant audiences.  

Advertisers should work with an intelligent independent ad server in order to create, activate and measure the effect of truly data-driven creative ad messaging on every impression. 


Create, store, manage and review multiple creative versions across every screen from a centralised location. Create hundreds / thousands of creative versions once from a single ad template and then update at any time, with changes that go live in minutes and no on-going new production costs.  


Use an ad server with a data rules engine that can create sophisticated dynamic creative campaigns with ease to target relevant consumers with the relevant creative.  Gain access to multi-dimensional data including: behavioural, contextual, customer, weather and many more to build a robust creative architecture that delivers the most impactful experience for your customers.  


Know what is working and what is not – don’t waste time and money on ads that aren’t effective and use a dynamic partner that does not purchase any media, providing a full and unbiased data set across performance, viewability and attribution. 

Where cookies are unreliable, attribute mobile conversions with cookieless conversion technology that ensures post click and post impression conversions are tracked across all mobile environments. 

Take advantage of reporting and analytics that show your online marketing performance across all media channels. Use fractional attribution to see the contribution each channel, placement and creative makes to ROI or CPA, then optimise spend based on actionable recommendations.

Click here for a brief Flashtalking overview on good online advertising

Written by

Amanda Harrison

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