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IAB Innovation Days: Google's Mohan urges greater user focus

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New York—For online display advertising to grow, both in revenue and in viewer acceptance, fewer but better ads must be served, engagement must rise and users must have a greater say in what ads they see, according to Neal Mohan, VP-product management at Google Inc., at today's IAB Innovation Days here. “The Internet is a very chaotic place, with trillions of display ads served yearly,” Mohan said, during the event's final-day keynote address, “The Future of Display.” “With all this noise, it's no surprise that users have a hard time engaging with ads that are relevant to them.” Mohan said the delivery of fewer ads alone would help elevate engagement. He also offered several forecasts he said would help the display ad industry grow from its current $26 billion state to a possible $200 billion level within a few years. Engagement rates can be greatly increased if advertisers embrace dramatic new ad formats, Mohan said. He demonstrated an iPad video ad for Marvel Entertainment's new movie “Thor” that had the hero seemingly breaking the user's iPad screen with his iconic hammer. Mohan said that feature, along with other interactive features and calls to action, produced a replay rate of more than 50% and is indicative of the kind of engagement that innovative display ads can inspire. Mohan's other predictions include greater implementation of users' preferences for the ads they see, the advent of new metrics that measure emotional connection rather than clicks and impressions, and real-time advertiser transparency about the user data collected to target particular ads to those users. IAB President-CEO Randall Rothenberg underscored Mohan's predictions. “ 'Exciting' and 'display' are not usually the words you hear casually thrown together, but our goal is to change that perception,” Rothenberg said. “Today, we're experiencing a perfect storm for the reinvention of digital advertising. It's the intersection of art and science in advertising. It's where smart meets sexy.”
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