Rich Media: The tip of the iceberg with massive AdTech and AI underneath

One of the most powerful tools in the world of mobile marketing is rich media. Higher productivity than traditional ads ensure their popularity and success. So, according to eMarketer, the click rate of rich media advertising exceeds standard banners by 267%. Impressive, right?

Rich media attracts the attention of companies that are continuously looking for something to enrich and refresh their marketing strategy. Analysts expect that the funds for banner advertising of most companies will soon be transferred to the rich media format. According to the same eMarketer, this category, along with video announcements, accounts for the largest share of digital advertising spending in the world in 2019 – $ 44.6 billion.

In this article, we share why we use rich media in Adello and what challenges we face when building it.

What is rich media? 

But first, about the definition. In general, it is any form of digital content that differs from plain text and static images and provides a more appealing user experience. We would complement this definition with the fact that rich media includes audio, video, and other elements that encourage users to interact with content. Also, rich media is created using HTML5 technology and may then include several levels of content. For example, animated elements, audio, and video streaming.

Advantages of rich media advertising

There are many ways to use rich media in your brand’s marketing strategy. We have highlighted some of the most obvious and important ones.

  • Enable better interaction with the user. Among the information noise, the user clearly better responds to something more interesting. Rich media is capable of attracting and retaining attention.
  • Greater opportunities to call for action. With video and other multimedia content, you are more likely to attract the user’s attention and use more calls to action.
  • More insights for analytics. Rich media allows marketers to monitor different levels of interaction of users with ads, including such indicators as indicators of viewability, interaction patterns, interaction, or watching time.

Development of rich media

Digital media has been evolving over the last two decades and has gone through many development stages. Starting from blinking banners to immersive 3D environments that users can interact with.

Despite this, the development of rich media creatives is not getting easier. When developing a new creative, we, the dev team, work on many layers of tech tediously crafting each line of code to ensure functionality on all platforms and environments that come in all shapes and sizes. But before starting, we answer a few important questions:

  • What is the current status of some Web APIs for mobile devices? We check whether there is something new or more widely available APIs that allow us to develop more interactive creatives.
  • What are the trends in the relationships between users and creatives? It covers creative trends, users’ attention span, and interaction lengths. One second more or one second less can make a big difference. Thus, we periodically analyze data provided by our data science team to understand new patterns.
  • What is the main intention of new rich media creatives? It could be information delivery, entertainment, or engaging ways to interact with the audience.

Among the many challenges to consider when building rich media creatives, two of them require greater attention. These are – available technologies and user behavior.

Technologies for rich media

Unlike building a web page, where developers only worry about the browsers that the web page is rendered on, mobile creatives go through many technical challenges.

First and foremost, the developers try to answer the following questions: Are they rendered in a browser in an iframe or in the publisher’s top frame? Are they rendered in an App inside a WebView? What limitations are set in each WebView? So you can imagine that the places rich media creatives might be rendered in vary greatly, and so do the limitations.

To be safe, we start strict. We start with the assumption that all features are unavailable. Let’s take our 360˚ creative as an example from this point forward.

This ad creative presents the inside of a car in a 360˚ environment where users can move the phone to discover more of the surroundings as if they would sit right inside of a car. Discovering hotspots that give more information about some areas and a Call to Action to land to the product website.

Technically, to render this creative, besides the basic web environment and HTML/CSS rendering capabilities, we also need WebGL and access to the device’s gyroscope. If all of those requirements are available, we can present our creative at its greatest potential – users could move their devices around and gradually discover more information until being ready to click to learn more.

However, some ad blockers installed on the devices might prevent rich media from using smartphone sensors, including gyroscope. If we don’t have the necessary access to run our 360˚ show, we enable features according to the hardware access or available web APIs. Thus, we display a fallback image that has all the necessary info captured about the product and includes a Call to Action to learn more. In this case, users can pan around via hand swipe gestures. As easy as moving the phone.

Each rich media creative has its own set of challenges, depending on its behavior and the required access it needs. The mission is always the same – to deliver the right message, no matter how.

User Behavior

User behavior is, well, complicated. It changes every few months (COVID-19 also made its influence), it differs from region to region, and it greatly changes with each generation. Every factor counts.

Every time we create a new template, it needs to meet an extensive list of requirements and follow some very specific practices.

Some rules of thumb:

  • No aggressive attention-catchers;
  • No redirects without the user’s direct intent;
  • Intuitive and clean layout;
  • User has control over the pace;
  • Accessibility users with color blindness and weak eyesight.

Some examples of best practices:

  • Use Vanilla JavaScript with in-house optimized solutions. Dependency on other libraries might lead to code overhead and unnecessarily increase the creative’s load time;
  • Load resources asynchronously. This allows the creative to load in the background without stopping the publisher’s page from loading;
  • Browser-based optimized assets. We check what’s the best and lightest supported format (.jp2, .webp, etc.), to deliver to the user.

Simplicity is the key to users’ trust

The main goal of rich media creatives is to attract audience attention, not to startle them with random movements and bright colors. If we genuinely attract users’ attention, the chance that they interact with rich media ads and land on the product’s page is higher.

In the 360˚ creative example, we catch users’ attention by slowly moving the creative around to indicate that there is more to explore if the user would be curious to.

Often, the simpler – the better. We have had fun building some gamified creatives. Some with pizzazz and explosions. You’d think that would attract more attention and would lead to better CTR. Though that is not necessarily the case. If the intention would be the WOW factor, it is then best served with simplicity.

We are quite proud of our HyperCube creative. It is a great combination of a more eye-catching presentation delivered in a simple manner. Easy to digest and has one of the highest CTR.

In the end, no matter what you deliver, make it intuitive and simple. People still love that.

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