Member Q&A Series: The Digital Ad Experience

On September 09, 2021 Research & Resources

According to the recent IAB Australia Online Advertising Expenditure Report prepared by PwC, the Australian digital advertising market has recorded a 24.2% growth, the strongest since 2016, reaching $11.4bn online advertising expenditure for the 2021 financial year. With this comes an importance to ensure a balance of ad market growth and a positive consumer experience. Finding the right balance between the needs of the consumer and the needs of a brand in the digital ad economy is imperative. This Q&A aims to dive deeper into understanding this balance and the opportunities available that are important for both brands and consumers themselves. 

Thankyou to those who contributed from Captify, Kargo and InMobi


Krish Raja, General Manager Australia, Captify

Looking back over the last 5 years, what are one or two developments have you seen that enhance the consumer experience? For example: new formats, better use of data, change of creative style/messaging , etc.

We’ve seen a shift towards data everywhere. Even up until recently, data had mostly been judged by it’s price and it’s label, whereas now we’re seeing a shift where the best marketers are recognising the value of data in more scalable and impactful ways. As a result, we’re seeing data applied to upper and mid funnel activations now, with the expectation that it can shed light on parts of the media plan usually reserved for broadcast advertising like TV & OOH. (Good) data now gets used to reach and engage qualified audiences across all channels rather than simply cookie bomb digital campaigns – and that trend will only continue to increase. That’s a fantastic thing for both consumer privacy and consumer experience.

What tips would you give media owners looking to create a better ad experience for consumers?

Media owners have typically been big news publishers that look to attract specific audiences with specific content, and their data sets reflects that. In the new world, consumer intent is a lot more dynamic, and add to that any business can now be a media owner. So I’d recommend that media owners find partners that can help extract more value and enrich their datasets so they don’t have blind spots. They’ll be able to make better decisions for their consumers as a result and also increase the value of their media. That in turn will help our industry to keep the open internet healthy.


Cam Dinnie, Operations Director APAC, Kargo

With digital ad formats and options continually expanding, how can brands efficiently develop a range of assets that suit different formats (display, native, video, social, audio) and devices that showcase the ad creative as well as make the most of the environment?

The growth of digital ad formats has been driven by the significant shifts in consumer behaviour we have seen in the last 5 years.  Audiences have migrated quickly to new platforms, resulting in seismic shifts in how content is being consumed.  Each new platform presents its own opportunities for advertisers, while legacy media business have also adapted, contributing to this changing landscape.

The pace of change has only accelerated, and been felt more broadly, due to the impact of the covid pandemic.  Advertisers have had to deal with significant changes in consumer behaviour across retail, ecommerce and media. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus states, “change is the only constant in life,” and never has this been more true.  As we navigate this change we must be nimble; monitor and anticipate changes in consumer behaviour and importantly, be willing to test and learn. Strong partnerships will deliver success.  This is not just between the brand and their creative and media agencies; it extends to media and platform partners.

The benefit of these partnerships is twofold; firstly, ensuring media campaigns are directly linked to brand objectives and secondly, creating content that can be leveraged across all these new formats and platforms.. The more clearly a brand understands the role of each format and platform it will allow them to take advantage of these new opportunities.. True partnerships will deliver alignment across audience, creative, format and context to deliver specific outcomes.  Each platform, format and audience should have a specific role and purpose.  Leverage media owner understanding of consumer behaviour, understand the creative and format opportunities and how they can drive different audience interactions in the planning stage. Create content that can be utilised across all of these formats to reach your audience in a way which is memorable and resonates.

Mobile has been central to these changes in consumer behaviour and the growth of ad formats.  Mobile use and mobile ad spend are witnessing exponential growth, commanding more time and attention than any other platform right now.  However, mobile-first creative is still too often an afterthought for today’s brands and ad agencies. Mobile creative should be designed for the device they live on and take advantage of all of the phone’s features. The result? Creative that looks great and performs even better. With cookies on their way out and the new iOS updates making tracking history, mobile creative will have to work much harder to actually capture attention and elicit engagement. It may require a bit more effort, but specialized, made-for-mobile creative improves outcomes for advertisers, publishers and users alike.

Advertisers must remember that mobile users are hardly a captive audience. They can scroll, swipe and tap away from your ad in the blink of an eye. However, giving consumers control of the ad experience is likely to end with more time spent with your brand. These user-controlled experiences can range from scroll-reactive creatives that change based on scroll-velocity, to allowing users to decide if and when they want to turn on audio within a video experience.

Mobile creative can get users to become an active participant in the ad experience. An advertiser who does not understand and embrace this opportunity is doing their brand a disservice.

What tips would you give advertisers and agencies looking to create a better experience for consumers?

Today, the small screen is a big tool for brands looking to make an impact. And this smaller size isn’t the only challenge for attracting attention; it only takes a tap or a scroll for a user to skip a video ad or leave a page mid-banner animation. Mobile ad design and experience has to work much harder to grab eyes, stop thumbs and win attention. And as we all have seen, a lot of mobile ads aren’t taking design seriously.

People are spending more time than ever scrolling through their phones. Eyes have shifted from the big screen to the smallest screen in a big way, but creative agency priorities haven’t quite caught up.  Even though mobile accounts for nearly 70% of total digital ad spend, I’d estimate that mobile-specific creative builds make up only 10% of a designer’s time or effort.

From our earliest days, Kargo has led with design. Don’t get us wrong, we love our data, but in the end we believe it’s design that makes the deep connection between clients and consumers. We believe big, bold, eye-catching creative makes even the fastest scrollers stop, lean in and engage with an ad. To that end, we’ve arrived at a reliable set of tried and true best design practices to keep in mind as you prep your next campaign:

  • Non-Intrusive Formats- Ads that captivate the consumer without taking them away from their content experience.
  • Succinct Messaging - A great image is worth 1,000 words. Keep copy short and sweet.
  • Reduce Clutter - Less is more, white space can guide the eye better than a crowded backdrop.
  • “Snackable” Animations & Video -The average attention span is 6 seconds or less. Make every one of those seconds count with clear messaging and strong design.
  • Prominent & Memorable Branding - Keep logo, brand colors, and identifiable imagery upfront and centre.

While our industry often obsesses over data as the key to getting messages to land, it’s design that nails that landing. Reaching the right person at the right time with a poorly designed ad doesn’t add up to the right results. A well designed ad is what catches an eye, sparks an emotion and makes a connection that raises awareness or closes a sale.


Richard O'Sullivan, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, InMobi

Looking back over the last 5 years, what are one or two developments have you seen that enhance the consumer experience? For example: new formats, better use of data, change of creative style/messaging, etc. 

Over the last five years there has been a major transformation in the we look at creative. While it was always considered to be the final piece of puzzle in any digital advertising campaign, it was mostly looked at as just a static asset. Now, with better tools and technologies at our disposal, we are striving to provide a personalised experience for the consumer by combining multiple data signals (via APIs), audience data and hardware signals. Creative is no longer just a single beautiful image that communicates the same exact message to every single person. It is now more relevant, contextual, immersive and hard to ignore than ever before, especially as both data and media has been commoditised.

What has helped this evolution is the way creative is built. Gone are the days where you would need an army of designers, developers and delivery teams, building and flighting 100s of creative variations. With robust creative authoring platforms, AI driven algorithms and continuous feedback loop across systems, all of that can be done with a handful of resources.

Have you seen any companies (media or brands) who have struck the right balance on the needs of consumers and the need of the brand? Can you give an example and talk to why it works so well?

The most recent campaign that comes to mind for me would be the work we did for Ford as a part of their “Build Your Ultimate Ranger” Campaign. The story was incredibly exciting as we were able to help Ford advocate their need for inspiring modifications while offering consumers a highly involved and immersive experience. As a part of the campaign we were able to excite consumers as they built their very own Ford Ranger, which had over 4,500 permutations in the consumer journey. Users could build their Rangers based on their favourite outdoor activity, the type of accessories, the coverage, and the colours they like the most and they could get an immediate quote and get directions to their nearest dealers, inspiring immediate action. You can check out the the highly engaging and fun for consumers with high brand involvement creative experience here: