A distinction between display and performance digital advertising remains in many people’s minds but I’ve come to believe that there’s no such thing as digital display advertising – not in the same way that there is in print, outdoor etc: all digital advertising is performance advertising. It can be tracked like no other medium, required actions can be quantified most of the time and performance of one medium, platform or publisher can be measured against another.
Just showing the ad is not enough, particularly when you consider that according to accepted standards a “viewable” impression is “a minimum of 50 percent of pixels in view for a minimum of 1 second” – even then there’s a good chance the user didn’t see it and in most cases these standards are not being imposed: The Financial Times reported this week that in a recent campaign Mercedes online ads were viewed more by fraudster robots than actual humans and Business Insider recently reported that fewer than half of all U.S. video ad impressions were viewable in 2013.
‘Display’ advertising campaigns run by agencies now drop a post-impression cookie from almost every banner served – this allows them to measure how many users going to their client’s site were exposed to the banners. So it’s actually performance based – attribution is key to these display campaigns.
66% of all digital advertising by spend is already what is today called “performance”. If not now, then over time, digital will come to be viewed as a performance marketing medium only.