FreshDirect Believes in Banners

The digital industry often knocks the banner ad, claiming it is dead. There are differences in opinion, however.

John Leeman, CMO of FreshDirect, says the banner ad is not dead and shouldn’t be, because it’s still an effective way to build brand awareness. The only thing that remains, Leeman said, is for publishers to figure out the mobile piece. FreshDirect wants to advertise within mobile apps on a geotargeted basis. And with consumers having the option of keeping their location a secret, brands haven’t yet reaped the benefits of mobile advertising.

There’s a lot of talk about the banner ad being dead. Is this the case?
Is looking at pictures dead? Is reading dead? Then no, the banner is not dead either, because for brand awareness and associated benefit communication, the banner is still effective. There are also many new and more interactive applications to leverage within the banner. But the value that one derives from the banner is based on the goals that one applies to it and the relative other choices that make sense for that brand and consumer.

Why do you think so many people are knocking the banner ad?
Because they apply the cleanest metric that they have for banner ads (click-through or cost per action) to all benefits that a banner can deliver (reach, frequency, awareness, etc.), despite it being the wrong metric for those objectives.

How important do you see programmatic ad buying becoming?
I think it’s already very important when marketers have a clear idea for how to inform the program descriptions with the right kinds of targets or results to optimize against.

Have publishers responded quickly enough to the needs of marketers like FreshDirect?
In many areas, publishers are responding well: ZIP code targeting, audience targeting, variable rich and non-rich pricing. The biggest remaining need for FreshDirect is a way to advertise inside mobile apps on a geotargeted basis.

What’s your assessment of the state of online creative?
The same as the state of offline creative. Highly variable in terms of strategic communication, effective leveraging of the medium to build the brand’s equity, and understanding of how to maximize consumer receptivity based on context.