How Ad Tech Can Benefit From Human-Centric Design

6
Director of Business Development, EMEA
at
6
minutes
Technical Level
May 25, 2022
Wa'el Aboutanos
Director of Business Development, EMEA

The following article was originally featured in ExchangeWire published on May 25, 2022.

What do Apple, Starbucks, and Disney have in common? They use Human-Centered Design.

Human-Centered Design is a core principle of leaders in most industries, however, it’s not as prevalent in the ad tech ecosystem. By better understanding humans and their interactions with the ads delivered to them, brands and organizations can increase their performance, improve their user experience and boost the rate at which new users acquire their solutions, effectively lowering their customer acquisition costs. In this post, we’ll cover what Human-Centered Design is, how it’s used in other industries, how advertisers can apply the concept to their different ad formats and the importance of Human-Centered Design for the development of the metaverse and web3. 

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is the practice of prioritizing people in the problem-solving and design process and considering them more as complex human beings than as customers or users when developing products, services and experiences.

How is Human-Centered Design Used in Other Industries?

The top-performing companies in most industries, like tech, direct to consumer, and retail, use human-centered design.

Placing the customer at the core of its design process, Apple changed the course that threatened its existence. For example, Apple understood that when people take their headphones off, they’re probably not listening to music or talking on the phone. So, keeping in mind people’s behavior, Apple built their AirPods to automatically pause or end the call when you take them off. 

There’s an app for that

Apple’s use of HCD extends beyond just their computers, phones, and accessories. The iPhone made the use of apps popular, paving the way for Airbnb and Uber to flip entire industries on their heads. By developing their services from the perspective of the average person, Airbnb and Uber made sharing your home and car with strangers a normal thing.

This is not unique to unicorn companies like Apple, Airbnb and Uber. Companies like Starbucks, Ford, IBM, Walt Disney and other widely known brands outperform the competition by over 200% by focusing on a Human-Centric Design.

Not-so-human Advertising

Today’s ad experiences are invasive, interfering and just plain irritating. So why hasn’t Human-Centered Design been applied to advertising if the concept is so simple? 

Accustomed to social media platforms and their modern design of ads, people’s online behavior and expectations changed in just a matter of years. Were social media platforms the catalyst for this behavior change or did they design their ad delivery for the human experience?

So how can we meet the needs and expectations of people by applying a Human-Centered Design approach to how digital advertising is delivered?

Human-Centered Advertising

At Sharethrough, we set out to study how people behave and interact with the ads they see every day. Our goal was not to reinvent the ad wheel but to better understand how we can improve existing ad types like banners, video, and CTV to better fit human behaviors and expectations, capture a person’s attention and increase their comprehension of ads to drive behavior change.

Applying HCD to Display Advertising

We used eye-tracking technology to uncover how people interact with display ads and how to apply a Human-Centered Design approach. What we found was that people look at the headlines first when they scan through pages but, due to the saturation of banner ads, consumers have been trained to skip past banners. 

So we asked ourselves, what would happen if we added a headline under the banner?

We tested adding the same text that’s in the banner as a headline under the ad and hoped for the best, but we never expected these results. People were 2.5X more likely to pay attention to the banner ad and comprehend the advertiser’s messaging.

Achieve 7x higher CTR by automatically adding headlines under your banner ads with Enhanced Banners from Sharethrough

Applying HCD to Video Advertising

Not much has changed in video advertising, aside from the addition of a “skip ad” button to pre-roll videos, so it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of people are skipping pre-roll ads. How do we apply a much-needed Human-Centric Design update to video advertising?

We conducted another study on how people interact with video ads, and the study revealed that most people keep their devices on mute and prefer to have captions. Referencing the same eye-tracking study that inspired us to add headlines to banners, when we tested videos with and without captions on real humans. The results showed people were 56% more likely to comprehend the main message of the video ad with our captions, at the same rates as editorial content. 

Dynamic Captions increase comprehension of your ads by 56% more than ads without captions.

Solving the TV Commercial Attention Problem with HCD

The growth of CTV over the last few years shows no signs of slowing down. Our early research efforts have already revealed the most pressing problem: TV ads have a serious attention problem. That research indicated that 79% of people pull out their phones the moment TV cuts to a commercial break, so we turned our human-centric research attention to understanding how CTV can improve the TV commercial experience and bring people’s attention back to the TV.

A person holding a tabletDescription automatically generated with low confidence
TVs faded into the background as cellphones became consumers’ primary screens.

We looked for a solution that could turn the fact that most people are on their phones when TV commercials start into an opportunity to capture people’s attention. We hypothesized that the comeback of QR codes could capture the attention of viewers and make use of the devices they’re already holding. So we tested ads on 1,000 different viewers and discovered QR codes on TV advertisements can help increase viewers’ attention by 12%. 

Additionally, scanning QR codes bridge the gap between CTV and smartphones, enabling advertisers to measure performance as they do with Click-through Rates (CTR.)

QR Codes increase consumers’ attention to your TV ads by 12%.

HCD is Needed To Build the Metaverse

The metaverse and the decentralized Web3 are concepts that unify those individual aspects into one avatar, one identity, that you can step into when you enter the metaverse. Be it through VR headsets, computers, or phones, the metaverse will allow people to access Web3 in a way that feels more like walking around downtown or browsing through stores in a mall.

This raises an interesting question, what will advertising look like in the metaverse and Web3?

Whatever VR ads look like, it is critical that we do not rush as an industry to saturate the metaverse with ads. By studying the behaviors of people in the metaverse and figuring out how advertising can apply a Human-Centric Design to both fit with those behaviors and, hopefully, add value to those experiences. 

Brands are already experimenting on how to provide value through virtual experiences, such as Travis Scott's concert in Fortnite or virtual goods for their avatars like Van's "Van's World" skatepark in Roblox. 

HCD in Advertising Is Necessary  

By applying a Human-Centered Design approach to the delivery of their ads across all platforms, screens and devices, brands and advertisers can maximize their return on advertising spend, boost their ad campaign performance and minimize their customer acquisition costs. 

The following article was originally featured in ExchangeWire published on May 25, 2022.

What do Apple, Starbucks, and Disney have in common? They use Human-Centered Design.

Human-Centered Design is a core principle of leaders in most industries, however, it’s not as prevalent in the ad tech ecosystem. By better understanding humans and their interactions with the ads delivered to them, brands and organizations can increase their performance, improve their user experience and boost the rate at which new users acquire their solutions, effectively lowering their customer acquisition costs. In this post, we’ll cover what Human-Centered Design is, how it’s used in other industries, how advertisers can apply the concept to their different ad formats and the importance of Human-Centered Design for the development of the metaverse and web3. 

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is the practice of prioritizing people in the problem-solving and design process and considering them more as complex human beings than as customers or users when developing products, services and experiences.

How is Human-Centered Design Used in Other Industries?

The top-performing companies in most industries, like tech, direct to consumer, and retail, use human-centered design.

Placing the customer at the core of its design process, Apple changed the course that threatened its existence. For example, Apple understood that when people take their headphones off, they’re probably not listening to music or talking on the phone. So, keeping in mind people’s behavior, Apple built their AirPods to automatically pause or end the call when you take them off. 

There’s an app for that

Apple’s use of HCD extends beyond just their computers, phones, and accessories. The iPhone made the use of apps popular, paving the way for Airbnb and Uber to flip entire industries on their heads. By developing their services from the perspective of the average person, Airbnb and Uber made sharing your home and car with strangers a normal thing.

This is not unique to unicorn companies like Apple, Airbnb and Uber. Companies like Starbucks, Ford, IBM, Walt Disney and other widely known brands outperform the competition by over 200% by focusing on a Human-Centric Design.

Not-so-human Advertising

Today’s ad experiences are invasive, interfering and just plain irritating. So why hasn’t Human-Centered Design been applied to advertising if the concept is so simple? 

Accustomed to social media platforms and their modern design of ads, people’s online behavior and expectations changed in just a matter of years. Were social media platforms the catalyst for this behavior change or did they design their ad delivery for the human experience?

So how can we meet the needs and expectations of people by applying a Human-Centered Design approach to how digital advertising is delivered?

Human-Centered Advertising

At Sharethrough, we set out to study how people behave and interact with the ads they see every day. Our goal was not to reinvent the ad wheel but to better understand how we can improve existing ad types like banners, video, and CTV to better fit human behaviors and expectations, capture a person’s attention and increase their comprehension of ads to drive behavior change.

Applying HCD to Display Advertising

We used eye-tracking technology to uncover how people interact with display ads and how to apply a Human-Centered Design approach. What we found was that people look at the headlines first when they scan through pages but, due to the saturation of banner ads, consumers have been trained to skip past banners. 

So we asked ourselves, what would happen if we added a headline under the banner?

We tested adding the same text that’s in the banner as a headline under the ad and hoped for the best, but we never expected these results. People were 2.5X more likely to pay attention to the banner ad and comprehend the advertiser’s messaging.

Achieve 7x higher CTR by automatically adding headlines under your banner ads with Enhanced Banners from Sharethrough

Applying HCD to Video Advertising

Not much has changed in video advertising, aside from the addition of a “skip ad” button to pre-roll videos, so it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of people are skipping pre-roll ads. How do we apply a much-needed Human-Centric Design update to video advertising?

We conducted another study on how people interact with video ads, and the study revealed that most people keep their devices on mute and prefer to have captions. Referencing the same eye-tracking study that inspired us to add headlines to banners, when we tested videos with and without captions on real humans. The results showed people were 56% more likely to comprehend the main message of the video ad with our captions, at the same rates as editorial content. 

Dynamic Captions increase comprehension of your ads by 56% more than ads without captions.

Solving the TV Commercial Attention Problem with HCD

The growth of CTV over the last few years shows no signs of slowing down. Our early research efforts have already revealed the most pressing problem: TV ads have a serious attention problem. That research indicated that 79% of people pull out their phones the moment TV cuts to a commercial break, so we turned our human-centric research attention to understanding how CTV can improve the TV commercial experience and bring people’s attention back to the TV.

A person holding a tabletDescription automatically generated with low confidence
TVs faded into the background as cellphones became consumers’ primary screens.

We looked for a solution that could turn the fact that most people are on their phones when TV commercials start into an opportunity to capture people’s attention. We hypothesized that the comeback of QR codes could capture the attention of viewers and make use of the devices they’re already holding. So we tested ads on 1,000 different viewers and discovered QR codes on TV advertisements can help increase viewers’ attention by 12%. 

Additionally, scanning QR codes bridge the gap between CTV and smartphones, enabling advertisers to measure performance as they do with Click-through Rates (CTR.)

QR Codes increase consumers’ attention to your TV ads by 12%.

HCD is Needed To Build the Metaverse

The metaverse and the decentralized Web3 are concepts that unify those individual aspects into one avatar, one identity, that you can step into when you enter the metaverse. Be it through VR headsets, computers, or phones, the metaverse will allow people to access Web3 in a way that feels more like walking around downtown or browsing through stores in a mall.

This raises an interesting question, what will advertising look like in the metaverse and Web3?

Whatever VR ads look like, it is critical that we do not rush as an industry to saturate the metaverse with ads. By studying the behaviors of people in the metaverse and figuring out how advertising can apply a Human-Centric Design to both fit with those behaviors and, hopefully, add value to those experiences. 

Brands are already experimenting on how to provide value through virtual experiences, such as Travis Scott's concert in Fortnite or virtual goods for their avatars like Van's "Van's World" skatepark in Roblox. 

HCD in Advertising Is Necessary  

By applying a Human-Centered Design approach to the delivery of their ads across all platforms, screens and devices, brands and advertisers can maximize their return on advertising spend, boost their ad campaign performance and minimize their customer acquisition costs. 

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About Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech—

Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech is a short 3-minute podcast exploring the news in the digital advertising industry. Ad tech is a fast-growing industry with many updates happening daily. As it can be hard for most to keep up with the latest news, the Sharethrough team wanted to create an audio series compiling notable mentions each week.

The following article was originally featured in ExchangeWire published on May 25, 2022.

What do Apple, Starbucks, and Disney have in common? They use Human-Centered Design.

Human-Centered Design is a core principle of leaders in most industries, however, it’s not as prevalent in the ad tech ecosystem. By better understanding humans and their interactions with the ads delivered to them, brands and organizations can increase their performance, improve their user experience and boost the rate at which new users acquire their solutions, effectively lowering their customer acquisition costs. In this post, we’ll cover what Human-Centered Design is, how it’s used in other industries, how advertisers can apply the concept to their different ad formats and the importance of Human-Centered Design for the development of the metaverse and web3. 

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is the practice of prioritizing people in the problem-solving and design process and considering them more as complex human beings than as customers or users when developing products, services and experiences.

How is Human-Centered Design Used in Other Industries?

The top-performing companies in most industries, like tech, direct to consumer, and retail, use human-centered design.

Placing the customer at the core of its design process, Apple changed the course that threatened its existence. For example, Apple understood that when people take their headphones off, they’re probably not listening to music or talking on the phone. So, keeping in mind people’s behavior, Apple built their AirPods to automatically pause or end the call when you take them off. 

There’s an app for that

Apple’s use of HCD extends beyond just their computers, phones, and accessories. The iPhone made the use of apps popular, paving the way for Airbnb and Uber to flip entire industries on their heads. By developing their services from the perspective of the average person, Airbnb and Uber made sharing your home and car with strangers a normal thing.

This is not unique to unicorn companies like Apple, Airbnb and Uber. Companies like Starbucks, Ford, IBM, Walt Disney and other widely known brands outperform the competition by over 200% by focusing on a Human-Centric Design.

Not-so-human Advertising

Today’s ad experiences are invasive, interfering and just plain irritating. So why hasn’t Human-Centered Design been applied to advertising if the concept is so simple? 

Accustomed to social media platforms and their modern design of ads, people’s online behavior and expectations changed in just a matter of years. Were social media platforms the catalyst for this behavior change or did they design their ad delivery for the human experience?

So how can we meet the needs and expectations of people by applying a Human-Centered Design approach to how digital advertising is delivered?

Human-Centered Advertising

At Sharethrough, we set out to study how people behave and interact with the ads they see every day. Our goal was not to reinvent the ad wheel but to better understand how we can improve existing ad types like banners, video, and CTV to better fit human behaviors and expectations, capture a person’s attention and increase their comprehension of ads to drive behavior change.

Applying HCD to Display Advertising

We used eye-tracking technology to uncover how people interact with display ads and how to apply a Human-Centered Design approach. What we found was that people look at the headlines first when they scan through pages but, due to the saturation of banner ads, consumers have been trained to skip past banners. 

So we asked ourselves, what would happen if we added a headline under the banner?

We tested adding the same text that’s in the banner as a headline under the ad and hoped for the best, but we never expected these results. People were 2.5X more likely to pay attention to the banner ad and comprehend the advertiser’s messaging.

Achieve 7x higher CTR by automatically adding headlines under your banner ads with Enhanced Banners from Sharethrough

Applying HCD to Video Advertising

Not much has changed in video advertising, aside from the addition of a “skip ad” button to pre-roll videos, so it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of people are skipping pre-roll ads. How do we apply a much-needed Human-Centric Design update to video advertising?

We conducted another study on how people interact with video ads, and the study revealed that most people keep their devices on mute and prefer to have captions. Referencing the same eye-tracking study that inspired us to add headlines to banners, when we tested videos with and without captions on real humans. The results showed people were 56% more likely to comprehend the main message of the video ad with our captions, at the same rates as editorial content. 

Dynamic Captions increase comprehension of your ads by 56% more than ads without captions.

Solving the TV Commercial Attention Problem with HCD

The growth of CTV over the last few years shows no signs of slowing down. Our early research efforts have already revealed the most pressing problem: TV ads have a serious attention problem. That research indicated that 79% of people pull out their phones the moment TV cuts to a commercial break, so we turned our human-centric research attention to understanding how CTV can improve the TV commercial experience and bring people’s attention back to the TV.

A person holding a tabletDescription automatically generated with low confidence
TVs faded into the background as cellphones became consumers’ primary screens.

We looked for a solution that could turn the fact that most people are on their phones when TV commercials start into an opportunity to capture people’s attention. We hypothesized that the comeback of QR codes could capture the attention of viewers and make use of the devices they’re already holding. So we tested ads on 1,000 different viewers and discovered QR codes on TV advertisements can help increase viewers’ attention by 12%. 

Additionally, scanning QR codes bridge the gap between CTV and smartphones, enabling advertisers to measure performance as they do with Click-through Rates (CTR.)

QR Codes increase consumers’ attention to your TV ads by 12%.

HCD is Needed To Build the Metaverse

The metaverse and the decentralized Web3 are concepts that unify those individual aspects into one avatar, one identity, that you can step into when you enter the metaverse. Be it through VR headsets, computers, or phones, the metaverse will allow people to access Web3 in a way that feels more like walking around downtown or browsing through stores in a mall.

This raises an interesting question, what will advertising look like in the metaverse and Web3?

Whatever VR ads look like, it is critical that we do not rush as an industry to saturate the metaverse with ads. By studying the behaviors of people in the metaverse and figuring out how advertising can apply a Human-Centric Design to both fit with those behaviors and, hopefully, add value to those experiences. 

Brands are already experimenting on how to provide value through virtual experiences, such as Travis Scott's concert in Fortnite or virtual goods for their avatars like Van's "Van's World" skatepark in Roblox. 

HCD in Advertising Is Necessary  

By applying a Human-Centered Design approach to the delivery of their ads across all platforms, screens and devices, brands and advertisers can maximize their return on advertising spend, boost their ad campaign performance and minimize their customer acquisition costs. 

About Calibrate—

Founded in 2015, Calibrate is a yearly conference for new engineering managers hosted by seasoned engineering managers. The experience level of the speakers ranges from newcomers all the way through senior engineering leaders with over twenty years of experience in the field. Each speaker is greatly concerned about the craft of engineering management. Organized and hosted by Sharethrough, it was conducted yearly in September, from 2015-2019 in San Francisco, California.

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Wa'el Aboutanos
Director of Business Development, EMEA

About the Author

Wa’el is Director of Business Development in EMEA for Sharethrough, a human-centric omnichannel ad exchange. He has been in digital adverting for over 12 years with experience in operations, data analysis, business development and partnership management. Wa’el played a major role in the growth of his company in North America’s programmatic landscape. He is now overseeing DSP partnerships growth in the EMEA region, putting forward Sharethrough’s unique technology amongst the company’s most strategic partners.

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