Static vs. Rich Media – Which Should You Use?

Today, we’re inundated with options when it comes to customizing our ad campaigns. From the humble workhorse – the Google ETA, to the latest and greatest in immersive, augmented reality-based ads, we have an amazing assortment of tools at our disposal.

And tools is the keyword. Every tool has its place, and some jobs and applications require a very specific tool. While that laser-guided compound miter saw is impressive, it might prove to be overkill, or even ineffectual when say, creating a dovetail joint. In short, there are instances where one tool will outperform the other. So we need to identify two things:

What is your medium?

What are you marketing?

What does the medium have to do with ad choice? Context. If you’re targeting users on YouTube a static ad is pretty ineffectual – everyone is already primed for video content because they’re, well, watching videos. Conversely, if you’re targeting people who read long-form news articles, they’re probably less likely to break their reading to engage in a video ad, whereas a static banner ad will less obtrusively convey your message to them. You’ll also want to identify what device your target audience is likely to view your ad on. Different devices lend themselves to different settings and different ad formats.

What are you marketing? Are you marketing something that requires interaction, maybe an automobile, or a consumer electronic like a tablet or phone? Then 360-degree video would make sense. Are you marketing CPG? You might not need that level of digital interaction, depending on your product and how familiar your target audience is with it.

Once you’ve answered these two questions, you’ll then want to determine budget, Level Of Effort (LOE), and campaign refresh rates.

Consider the following when conducting your Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) for a static ad campaign:

  • Ease Of Deployment – relatively quick and easy to design
  • Cost – developing a single-frame .png is cheaper in dev time than an immersive 360 video.
  • Ease Of Re-skinning – to combat ad fatigue
  • Faster Load Times – more complex ads may bog down slower devices/browsers
  • Limited Voice – a static ad can only convey so much compared to a 30-second video – does your brand require – or benefit from – an extended conversation?
  • Ad Blindness – like billboards you ignore on the highway, static ads can often fade into irrelevance
  • Engagement – a static ad drives you to a landing page, and then the landing page takes the baton from there whereas a video, animated, or interactive ad involves the user actively, creating a stronger bond between brand and consumer.
  • Universality – virtually every smartphone, desktop, tablet – even automobiles and watches – can serve a static ad. Animated ads, video ads, and especially AR – not so much.

So if you’re selling a one-trick pony like say, laundry detergent, you might not need a video to convey your product’s benefits. Same is true of financial products, or other narrowly-defined services. Caveat: that is not to say that your products cannot benefit from a rich media campaign, but that you can more often than not generate an effective campaign with static media compared to other products and services that engage more of the human senses.

Keep the following points in mind when determining your CBA for rich media:

  • Greater Voice – if a picture is worth a thousand words, and we process video at 24 frames per second, well, you do the math. You can dive down, in a short (read: cost-effective) amount of time with video, animated, and AR media. There are some fantastic examples out there of what you can convey in a six-second video clip.
  • Ad Uniqueness – a clever video can make you stop and listen. A well-designed animation can catch your eye and pull you in. The element of movement is essential for engaging the most crucial of those human senses: our sight.
  • Engagement – rich media can set your target audience up in ways a static ad cannot. You can prime them for the next step in their journey with so much more data over what you can convey in a static ad. The more educated a consumer feels right before the decision-making step, the higher the likelihood that user will convert.
  • Deployment – compared to the ease and speed of a static ad, rich media suffers from a twofold increase in development time: 1) planning, scripting, and building a finer-grain campaign to support it, and 2) the time and tech used to develop, QA, and deploy.
  • Cost – all of the above directly affects the cost, putting a more substantial burden of ROI on rich media over the financially-svelte static ad.
  • Slower Load Times – while these are dropping thanks in part to advances in hardware and software, there will never be a day when a video – no matter how optimized, beats an equally-optimized static ad.
  • Universality – the more you rely on newer tech and standards, the smaller you audience potentially becomes.
  • Refresh Rate – compared to how quickly you can swap out imaging or copy on a static ad, should you have to update a company logo, or introduce a new product line rich media requires at the least some additional steps, at the most an entire redo.

As you are no doubt realizing, there is no single answer to our original question of which type of ad you should choose. The answer lies in addressing quite a few variables. A genuinely effective digital marketing strategy requires a solid grasp of your KPIs, an honest and actionable budget, accurately forecasted timelines, a realistic assessment of your capabilities, and a plan for A/B testing to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns over time.

If you’d like to explore the CBAs of both static and rich media ads for your organization, drop us a line – we’re listening.

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