On leap day 2012, you may have felt a little shift. Perhaps even seen some ripples in your tea.
It was the jolt of the £1bn online display ad market completely reinventing itself at the IAB’s Future Format Award.
Advertising is at a juncture. In the first half of 2011, online display advertising grew by almost 20%, in part fuelled by increasing spend from the consumer goods sector.
Beans, yoghurt and shampoo - not traditionally about the need for an immediate direct response - are using display for engagement.
Marketers are waking up to the brand building strengths of online display, with 43% of online display ad spend now coming from brand budgets.
We know standard banners and MPUs work very well, but we can do better.
Screen resolutions have doubled in size, broadband is ubiquitous and the internet’s infrastructure is a million times better than five or so years ago.
Consumer expectations online are much higher as a result.
Richer experiences, larger images, HD video, greater interactivity and social are now a daily part of website content.
This experience should carry across to adverts. So, it’s time the online industry gives marketers the tools they need to build brand better.
In one of the biggest turning points in online display since it was first created, and something unique to this medium, for the Future Formats Award companies tore up the rulebook, submitting almost twenty potential formats to be judged by ten major media and creative agencies.
The six finalists were AOL, Google, MediaMind, Microsoft, the Telegraph and YouTube.
A trend across all entries is for bigger ads that also offer multiple layers of content for consumers who want to engage further.
Some of these formats, new today, are likely to become the standard formats of tomorrow.
After five years at the IAB, I leave this week. Prior to the IAB I worked for a number of brands and when I joined the trade body I wanted to see innovations and improvements in the formats offered by publishers.
As effective as they are, there’s a reason why sites aren’t built of a series of skyscraper shaped blocks.
I’ve been an advocate for new formats both externally and internally to our members for years, being particularly pleased to have added the half page ad as a standard in 2010.
Since then we’ve seen this larger format go from strength-to-strength. It's a sign of things to come.
Interestingly, over in the US this week, we’ve seen dramatic results from some of their Future Formats (four also feature in our six finalists).
For these new formats, compared to standard sizes, consumers are 2.5 times more likely to interact, view ads for 31% longer and state that the ads themselves improve their impression of the website and the brand (IAB US Feb, 2012).
In the UK, the IAB will launch research in March investigating the brand effectiveness of larger ads - our agency members have stated directly time and again that bigger ads generate significantly better brand results.
If just under a half of online display budgets are spent on branding now, these new ads will open the floodgates to big brand building campaigns.
The ability to create an entirely new set of advertising formats and take them to market so quickly is mindboggling.
This is only really possible now online - and includes tablets, mobile, PC and connected TV.
Online is perhaps the final frontier for major innovation in ad formats.
And the best bit is, you too can have a hand in shaping the future face of advertising thanks to initiatives like this.