HTML ads. Finally?

From the fine folks at Typecast:

...the process of designing and building digital ads has lagged behind and is still very much an over-the-fence approach. 

Hard to believe that it's 2014 and with all the mobile-ness, responsiveness and design love that the web has received in the last decade, advertising – the engine of everything web – is still a second-class citizen. 

First it was Flash (which is still around, sadly) and static images dropped all over web pages. Then we had so-called "takeovers" (the awfulness of an ad exploding all over the background of a news site) and all kinds of other intrusive and ineffective digital ads. Don't forget popups, pop-unders and other kinds of window trickery. Auto play video, random hidden tabs blaring obnoxious audio and all sorts of dirty, annoying tricks to interrupt users' attention.

There are examples of display advertising being done well. In every case, the advertisers:

  1. Know their audience.
  2. Don't sell ads to everyone, rather are incredibly picky.
  3. Limit the total ad inventory (this is artificial, because space is infinite online)
  4. ...and finally, uses attractive, well designed ads.

That last point is only the most visible part of a great approach to advertising. Typecast's support of HTML ad units is a great step forward in helping digital advertising catch up but until publishers embrace the first three items above, advertising on the web will continue to be awful.