Earlier this week, B&T published a piece titled ‘Banner Ads Don’t have to suck’. Josh Lee, digital director at full service agency Huckleberry and Simone Attanasio, senior UX designer at Huckleberry, couldn’t agree more and here’s why.
If I imagine myself as a banner, I’d want to be placed where you could see me, where I stand out; the right hand side, maybe a sticky side bar but yes, always visible and always looking my best to grab your attention and show off my vibe.
Now you’ve seen me, played around with me and heard me out, it’s time to click and that’s it… Isn’t it?
When we think about online advertising, we immediately think of pesky banners that follow us around, seemingly speaking to everyone but ‘me’. Though this account might hold true for some, perhaps this stigma has be reinforced by the lack of value banners deliver before, during and after a user has clicked?
UX – or User Experience is the delicate mortar that holds a consumer journey together from awareness to action. In today’s digital age, media and UX should be unified at every corner of communications from media placement, banners, landing pages, application forms, devices, apps to social media.
Let’s take the relationship of media and UX as we might attend a new food festival in town. The lead up is brimming with excitement from street posters promising the ‘most seamless and enjoyable experience ever’ but once you’re there, the music is blaringly loud, the layout is impractical; there’s nowhere to sit and eat and the poor lighting makes you second guess what’s on your plate. One would think twice about re-attending, just as an advertiser would think twice about spending on digital media that didn’t convert.
As Monday’s article pointed out, a misguided online user experience can occur in the same fashion. A user may not click on a banner, video or an email based on multiple factors like clutter, design, clarity of the message, disruption of its exposure and so on. On the other hand, users that do click through may also end up retreating to escape an overly complicated landing page or website.
The key thing to remember is that online advertising implores users to be taken out of their comfort zone so, if they cannot adapt to the new situation you’re offering then your collective value proposition has been weakened.
When media and UX operate separately without unified objectives, the chances for optimal success are forgone. So what can you do to improve results?
In essence, any UX objective should be paired up with an approach to media buying and targeting, and the same holds true in reverse.
For example, if the media objective was to drive a lower cost per click or lower cost per acquisition, then low cost media wouldn’t be enough as it’s not about ‘what media’ but ‘what audience’. Therefore, UX would complement this by safeguarding an intuitive user journey with minimal cognitive overload. All of this should meet the needs and motives of our audience trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
If we had a UX objective of increasing time on site, then a more targeted and engaging media buy would help achieve this by driving users from a place of more contextual relevance and engaging ad experience. If we look at this same example in reverse (from a media perspective), UX could enhance success through tactics like a nurtured based landing page.
There a lot more elements to consider which act as a mortar between media and UX, making them inseparable:
- Consistency – using the same design elements.
- UX pattern – incorporate recognisable user interface elements to create familiarity and reduce confusion.
- Simplicity – a balanced distribution of content and simple elements hierarchy.
- Role of media – understand how users engage with different ad formats and banner sizes.
- Role of targeting – understand your data touch points and its respective audience behavior.
- Data insights – test, learn, share, strategise, deploy and repeat.
These are just some of the techniques that can help us become more unified but education and collaboration play the greatest role in making sure both media and UX strategies leverage off each other to deliver optimal outcomes.
This task isn’t necessarily easy, but acknowledging there are worlds beyond simply designing and placing a banner will ensure that your brand is known for truly appreciating its audience.