Gen Z Hates Your Ads ... but They Love Your Videos

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Snapchat ads embrace the medium, writes Chris Innes. Normal display ads don't.
Snapchat ads embrace the medium, writes Chris Innes. Normal display ads don't.  Credit: Snapchat via YouTube

Display advertising is broken because the advertising industry is too focused on its own revenue, not the bad user experience it's creating.

While there are a lot of ad formats that brands and publishers are moving to displace, there's not been enough innovation in display itself. Consider: the first banner ad created back in 1994 doesn't look that different from some the ads we see today.

Today's consumers will do almost anything to avoid a digital ad (30% of all internet users will block ads by 2018). The challenges faced by the industry today -- click fraud, viewability, ad blockers and people not clicking ads -- are all rooted in terrible end-user experiences.

It makes sense that 69% of GenZ already avoid ads. They're a video generation, yet advertisers continue to push ads to them via videoless, noninteractive mediums. Snapchat ads are some of the best out there because they embrace the medium that end users engage with: vertical video that's suitable for viewing on a smartphone.

Take my word for it: Normal display ads will be dead in three years.

One hope for display

How do we solve for the death of display and consumer aversion to ads? Create a better experience for the end user, and start doing that with the video medium they embrace.

In fact, the industry has been morphing into video, and the speed at which it's happening is picking up. Facebook has been quickly releasing new video-ad formats; shoppable video ads appear on Snapchat and Instagram; and Twitter partnered with Bloomberg Media on 24-hours-a-day news streaming.

Video completely reinvigorates a consumer's end experience with an ad. For example, AOL found that mobile video ads are five times more engaging than standard banner ads, with technology and business verticals seeing over 800% higher engagement. Additionally, ads that incorporate video drive 9X as many post-click site visits as standard display ads.

Video is a versatile, engaging and sharable format -- three key factors that any ad today needs to break through the noise in a saturated digital landscape.

Not only can video quickly deliver a message in an engaging way, people share well-crafted video with others. No one shares a display ad unit with their friends.

The static display ad will become one of those relics our children laugh about because, eventually, video will move into its rightful place as king of advertising. The industry needs to embrace this, and focus on better video user experiences (new formats, best practices on length, content and brand safety).

If the "Snapchat" generation is a barometer for what the future of consumer ad expectations will be, experience needs to overcome thoughtless monetization. It's time for all advertisers -- and the ad tech companies they rely on -- to deliver.

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