The Internet has redefined the phrase “above-the-fold.” The term was born in a past generation, and signified the content that lived north of the physical fold of a newspaper. It was the place for the day’s biggest stories, and the first place you expected to grab your readers’ attention. Advertising space above the fold was a premium, and was priced as such.
When Internet pioneers chartered digital territory, they brought along an analog artifact when they repurposed the term “above-the-fold.” In their new world, above-the-fold signified the area of a webpage that was visible without having to scroll. For over a decade, ads that were above the fold on high reach sites with strong target audience composition were lauded by marketers and researchers alike.
However, the little secret among media professionals was a quiet skepticism about the effectiveness of above-the-fold digital buys. Were these buys really the most effective? What if somebody scrolled before an ad loaded? What if ads lower down the page next to contextual content attracted more attention? Can I be sure that my ad was served to a human and not to a bot? How do these factors scale?
It didn’t take long for digital researchers to jump in and propose a solution. After a few rocky years, marketers and agencies are finally warming up to their solution: an ad purchasing environment built on ad viewability, engagement, and targeting efficiency.
Now that digital media has adopted a measurement approach that comprehensively validates impressions, can traditional media outlets realistically continue to compete without a similarly validated approach? Not for long.
The days of traditional media’s “we’ve always done it this way” are running out, as a new generation of advertising professionals are seeking justification and measurement to input into their nouveau marketing mix models.