What were you doing 25 years ago?
In 1994, New Zealanders were celebrating 41 medal wins at the Commonwealth games and listening to Straitjacket Fits — winner of the Album of the Year for Blow at the New Zealand Music Awards.
In the media space, TV 2 began its 24/7 programming, while Newstalk ZB began broadcasting nationwide. These mass media broadcasters had majority of the eyes as only 3.2 percent of New Zealanders we using the internet.
In the US, 4.9 percent of the population was using the internet.
Bet despite internet’s baby steps into mainstream use, some advertisers spotted its potential and aT&T was one of the first to harness that with a banner ad on HotWired.com.
‘Have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You Will’, read the ad. And it was right.
About 44 percent of people who saw it clicked on it.
Those who did were redirected to a landing page reading “You did! Now let’s see what else you will do.”
Last week, at its Symposium in Sydney, Adobe celebrated the 25th birthday of the first banner ad and when Adobe APAC head of advertising cloud Phil Cowlishaw spoke, he called the ad "a basic experience", but one that was also "the birth of digital advertising".
“This really was the birth of digital advertising and the way brands would be able to connect with consumers on the internet.”
From ‘click here’ to ‘search here’
But it was also an early peak for clicks, as clicks have been declining as ads have been rising.
“That 44 percent click-through rate is a pretty lofty number and pretty hard for the industry to ever maintain," Cowlishaw says. And struggle it has.
Though the industry is guilty of chasing after clicks, today, the average click through on a banner ad is about 0.05 percent.
However, as Cowlishaw points out, that drop in clicks hasn’t stopped digital advertising spend from going up.
In 2018, New Zealand's total digital revenue reached $1.058 billion following four consecutive quarters of double-digit growth according to IABNZ. 2018's total represents nearly 15 percent growth year-on-year.
Helping that growth in digital revenue has been 'search'.
Cowlishaw recalls the launch of Google and though he says it was an “amazing opportunity” for advertisers, at the time, those he spoke to didn’t want to invest. How times have changed.
In the Australian market, 2018 saw Search and Directories hit AU$3.9 billion – a 9.2 percent increase according to IAB.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, IAB data shows Search reached $659.5 million, a 21.9 percent increase on 2017 and making it 62.7 percent of total revenue.
Cowlishaw says Search shows the importance of digital working alongside other advertising channels such as TV as it captures experiences that have happened before.
“It’s rare you will go to a search engine without something in mind to type. You needed to have that exposure, that experience.”
Another key factor for Search when considering its relevance in today’s media landscape is the fact it happens on the user’s terms.
“From a consumer perspective, the concept of time-based content consumption is pretty much gone,” Cowlishaw says.
“Everything we consume today is about choice. We chose what content to watch, when to watch it, and the medium we watch it on.”
Cowlishaw speaks from an Australian perspective, but according to NZ On Air’s 'Where are the Audiences?' 2018 report, SVODs reach 62 percent of New Zealanders a week.
However, linear TV still has the greatest reach, with 82 percent of New Zealanders tuning in each week, followed by broadcast radio that has 78 percent of New Zealanders listening.
Each day, 66 percent of New Zealanders watch linear TV compared to the 32 percent of New Zealanders using on-demand as a content source.