It’s old news that banner ads are dead, and clickthroughs a terrible metric.

Spend from that old, interruptive advertising has been steadily leaking into other areas: rich media, video, and social media.

But as brands and agencies are firming up planning for 2014, the questions aren't about what's bad. They're about how to create experiences that resonate in the hearts of consumers — ways of advertising that can compete with the perpetual distractions of the web.

If you’re looking for the next big thing in digital advertising, here are 4 trends to keep your eyes on.

Interactive Video Ads

Video has enjoyed steady growth and popularity, and now holds a seat as a cornerstone of online advertising.

But as the format evolves, interactive elements are being combined with video to increase the potential impact. This trend is occurring in two ways.

One is that videos are becoming a 2-way interaction, with functionality added in addition to just being able the video. This includes elements like:

  • Interactive Social buttons
  • Ad Selection (for example, users pick between 3 video ads)
  • Embedded calls to action

Another is that video is being included in other ad formats, such as display advertising. This is especially common in premium ad units, such as the over-sized native ad product that debuted recently with NPR’s new website.

Whether it’s traditional video, native ads with video content, or video-enabled display ads — the evolution is toward interactivity for this format in 2014.

Responsive Ads

Web access on multiple screens has surpassed single screen viewing this year. And while websites have found a variety of ways to handle the multi-screen problem, advertisers are lagging behind — until now.

Responsive advertising refers to ads that change in layout, size and/or orientation depending on the size of the screen they are being viewed on.

Still in its infancy, responsive advertising is seeing early adoption, and will be used by innovative, smart companies in 2014 and be more widespread in 2015.

This coincides with a growing adoption of HTML5 for this new breed of ads. HTML5 provides a lot of advantages over the incumbent platform Flash, including better performance, expanded functionality, and a strong likelihood that portable devices can display the content.

Learn more about responsive advertising.

Native Ads

While the finer definition of “native” is still in question, there is a broad trend where ads are being more fluidly integrated into sites at large.

Whether this is done as sponsored content, in-stream display ads like the NPR ad above (as opposed to typical sideline placement), promoted social posts, or even interstitial ads on mobile devices, integration is the key.

Native advertising is perhaps the biggest trend in 2013 and it will continue to be a strong force changing advertising in 2014.

For a more in-depth exploration of native ads, check out the native ad examples in this free ebook.

IAB Rising Stars

It’s been over 2 years since the next generation of display ads were selected, and Rising Stars have seen steady growth and fair popularity with advertisers.

Among all the ad units, the Pushdown was the most highly-deployed Rising Star format in 2012, with 43% of marketers including the unit in their media plans. (See other stats about IAB Rising Stars)

The bigger canvases and interactive functionality of the Rising Stars make them a strong opportunity as both ad products for publishers/networks, and storytelling vehicles for advertisers.

While not as new and flashy next year, Rising Stars have a proven track record of success and significant adoption. They’re not to be underestimated as a smart premium ad unit.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Rising Star ad formats, check out this interactive demo page.


Not included in this list is a major focus on content. While not strictly advertising, brands are funneling more and more time and energy into content marketing.

Some of this content will appear in advertising — such as the videos indicated above — or will receive paid promotion on social media as native advertising.

What do all these factors add up to? A focus on the consumer and on providing value at all touch points, even paid media.