Design creativity in Online Advertising

Which is the most creative online advertisement you have ever seen? Or should I ask – are the online advertisements you get most attracted to online the most creative ones? By creativity I mean the kind of imagination or style or design we see in other mediums, from television to billboards to magazines and newspapers.

Stats suggest that more and more people using internet are going to be attracted towards advertisements next to search results or ads contextual to the content on the page. Google’s AdWord and AdSense are amongst the most successful ad programs in the online market (which drives 99% of the revenue for this Wall Street darling). But the advertisements provided by Google or similar programs are the most simple form of advertisements ever.

Where’s the creativity? Or is this some other form of creativity? Here’s my take on this – I think the creative part of ad delivery is taken over by technology when it comes to advertisements in the online market. When the ultimate objective of an ad on internet is to drive traffic to a website, I think the context where advertisement takes multiple times priority over how well the advertisement is designed. Google stumbled across this concept and discovered the gold mine. For example searching for “internet telephone” on Google gives Vonage website as a sponsored link.

Vonage Google Ad

But this leads to another question – if the same advertisement is shown with more creative design then how it is shown by Google today, will it attract more hits? If the same Vonage advertisement looks something like the image below, will you be more inclined to click it?

Graphic ad of Vonage

The answer can be both yes and no. I think it depends on a lot of factors.

One way to look at it is how is the site designed? Majority of portals on internet today, which run on advertisement revenue, can be classified into two categories: Search-based-Content and Content-based-Search.
On a Search-based-Content site, like Google or, the user tends to look for specific content. In that case, a more simple textual advertisement is likely to be attractive because it tends to blend in with the content displayed on the web page. On the other hand, Content-based-Search portals like MSN or Yahoo themselves have rich content and the user navigates through the rich content (including pictures and videos) to search what they are looking for. At such portals, a graphical ad should attract more traffic.

Another way to look at this is what kind of viewers (or customers) are going to visit the page where the ad is displayed? Are they going to be sophisticated users? If yes, a simple textual ad will make more sense. On the contrary, if they are less sophisticated, casual visitors, a cool looking graphical ad will attract them more.

Yet another way to look at it is the purpose for which someone is visiting the page. If it is business or a relatively serious purpose – textual advertisement. If it is a fun or entertainment purpose – graphical advertisement.

I think we can go on and on with this. So I guess the online advertising has yet just scratched the surface with providing context to the ad. There is lots and lots of “creativity” left to be explored – both in the field of technology and design!

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