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RISMEDIA, July 27, 2010—The time has come for us—especially those in real estate—to seriously rethink online display advertising. Before deciding what this revolution should consist of, let us consider what we know. On the supply side, we know that the market for online display advertising is huge ($51.6 billion by 2010, according to PWC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2006-2010). It’s everywhere, and it isn’t going away. On the demand side, we know response rates are low (0.13% average) and that most consumers simply ignore display ads unless they are forced to watch them.

Advertisers are trying desperately to connect with consumers in the online space, but the opportunity to engage is clearly being missed. Despite the very clever attempts at contextual and behavioral advertising, consumers are not responding to online ads as they should, if at all. They may see them inadvertently, may not see them, or may completely block them from their browsers.

The problem lies in the ads themselves, the banner model of advertising, or even the concept of display advertising and what it means.

Beyond the banner
The current model of online display advertising is (at best) the contextual and behavioral placement of standard, animated, trackable and sometimes interactive banners. No wonder people ignore ads. We spend our lives developing mechanisms to screen out noise and recognize what is relevant, useful information when it comes onto our radar. We use our screening mechanisms in response to being pushed information that we don’t necessarily ask for. But what if we could ask for information?

A pull model of display advertising
Online display advertising is based on a consumer push model. Consumers are pushed adverts based on behavior, context, saturation and even when we are searching. Imagine if we could pull the information that we wanted from an ad unit instead of being pushed information that is completely irrelevant. What do you think the likelihood of interacting or eventually transacting with this information would be?

Enter a New Model: Search&Display
The Search&Display concept is a simple one: Give users advertising they can use—and want to engage with—when they want to use it, all without interruption and all without ever leaving the page. This format is a perfect example of permission-based sales channels that can be used according to actual needs. Imagine promoting all of your listings within a single ad unit. Search&Display acts as an interactive tool much the same as rich media banners—only now the content control is with the user and not the marketer.

This concept significantly changes the current model of online display advertising for the advertiser, consumer and publisher alike. In the place of traditional unsuccessful ads stands a range of customized, transactional and most importantly of all, useful applications in their place. Users would not see ads, they would use personalized applications.

The results are proven: in 2008, Microsoft did a study with comScore on the effects of integrating search ads with display campaigns. They found display advertising is seven times more effective when combined with search.

Advertising as application
Search&Display transforms advertising from a primarily passive experience into an engaging interactive real time personal engagement. Transforming information intended for visual communication into a set of useful and relevant user applications profoundly affects the online display advertising industry as we know it. Advertisers become more than just players on screen, screaming the loudest to try to get users to their sites. Instead, advertisers can take their site functionality to anywhere consumers are and generate unprecedented brand awareness direct response functionality. Consumers will not be bombarded with relatively useless adverts, but will instead interact and search to create a truly one-to-one advertising experience. Publishers can enjoy increased dwell time by offering an ad format that keeps the user engaged and significantly increases the value of their site.

John Marshall is recognized as a leader in advertising, communication and the marketing industry. His achievements have been formally recognized with many creative recognitions and awards in North America and Europe for his work on some very notable accounts such as ATI Technologies Inc., Samsung Electronics, Canon USA, NEC, QNX, Budget Rent-A-Car and many others.

Search&Display is Patent-Pending and is a Trademark of Inoventiv Canada Corp. It is licensed exclusively for use in the real estate industry by Onboard Informatics.

For additional information about this product or any of Onboard’s other innovative products, please go to or call 212-288-1550.