For several years, the visibility of online ads as defined by the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) has been the benchmark for success of advertisements on the Internet. However, a new study shows that pure visibility is anything but authoritative. Much more important are the relevance of content for the individual consumer and the entire customer experience. The integration of User Generated Content into online ads can have a positive effect on these two aspects.

How is the Visibility of Online Ads defined?

Ads on the internet are officially considered visible when 50% of a banner's pixels are visible for two consecutive seconds. This definition, set by the IAB, soon became a benchmark for online ads. For marketers, this gave rise to the hope of strengthening engagement with campaigns, building strong and long-lasting relationships with customers, and curbing concerns about wasting money on advertisements that are not being seen.

However, the idea that higher visibility generally leads to greater engagement is a misconception. The IAB standard only provides information on whether an advertisement appears on a screen. Whether the person in front of the device actually saw the ad or interacted with it in any way can not be inferred.

When do Consumers consider Online Ads appealing?

A recent study conducted by Outbrain shows that online advertising sees more engagement when it gives recipients a sense of added value, personal relevance and engaging content.

In contrast, however, the study also shows that 95% of consumers do not like it when advertisements interrupt them, meaning to suddenly appear as a pop-up or in the form of a video with sound on autoplay. In addition, 66% of respondents claimed to instantly skip advertisements they find annoying. This kind of negative experience can have a long-term effect on the perception of a brand.

Similarly, a positive customer experience with online advertising can also trigger a virtuous cycle. One in two people indicates to only remember ads with content which appears personally relevant to them. Roughly every third person remembers the respective brand after a positive advertising experience. As a result, increased attention is being paid to other content from this every brand, which automatically attributes more relevance to future advertisements. Thus, it becomes more likely that the consumer will notice online ads from the brand again.

Consequently, the benchmark for good online ads is not to be set in terms of their mere visibility, but rather with a focus on unobtrusiveness and personal relevance for the target group.

Make Online Ads something personal with User-Generated Content (UGC)

Optimizing ad performance is a matter of serving the right content to the right people at the right time. Because of this, marketers are often under pressure to continuously create greater amounts of content at a higher frequency. If they don't have the time to do so themselves, lots of money is often invested in the use of third party content. Yet the best content for online ads is often already there -  in the form of User Generated Content.

The integration of User Generated Content (UGC) into online ads has many advantages. On the one hand, it guarantees that the right target group is addressed and, on the other, it ensures that the content which is presented to this very target group, is something consumers can identify with - because it looks like their own. As a result, User Generated Content (UGC) placed in advertisements automatically generates a feeling of connection and community to the respective consumer and thus creates personal relevance.

Our customer erlich textil serves a prime example of the effective utilization of User Generated Content for advertising purposes. Founded in 2015, the company sells sustainable underwear and home textiles. Since 2017, erlich textil has been collecting User Generated Content under the branded hashtag #seierlich with the help of squarelovin. The curated pictures and videos are prominently placed on the erlich textil website in  form of a teaser gallery. Mainly, however, the brand is using customer content to fuel its own Instagram account. Pictures created by users are shared in form of feed posts or stories, linked to the respective products, on a regular basis.

Source: erlich textil

While unsponsored feedposts are not traditional online advertising, the case of erlich textil still shows how personal and unobtrusive advertising with UGC can be. The posts are just as high in quality as professional photographs, but offer much more diversity and thereby also significantly higher potential for identification. As a result, they imply personal relevance to a diverse audience that does not identify with just one single specific ideal of beauty. This emotional aspect contributes to a positive customer experience and thus supports sustainable customer loyalty.

squarelovin's User Generated Content Management Tool helps brands collect customer content based on mentions, hashtags or geo-locations, filter them according to individual preferences, legally secure their use and and effectively embed the content on all relevant marketing channels. For each image or video essential rights of use are requested individually in accordance with data protection law.

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