Something old, something new…

By Paps Shaikh

Lately, I’ve heard lots of talk in our industry about how digital advertisers are beginning to really take a look back at traditional methods and apply them to their work. Why do I say this? Because the online advertising landscape is so cluttered and crammed with messaging, coming at consumers from all angles. As an industry we are beginning to realise that the good old days of clean cut and simple messaging are sorely longed for.

It’s always struck me as odd that in the digital landscape, we’re constantly striving to make a bunch of pixels grouped on one section of a page get noticed. TV advertisers don’t do this – pop an ad down the left hand side while a viewer is watching a programme – so why in the online landscape has this, until recently always been the norm? Yes, TV watching is a linear experience, and within the flow of content ad breaks are naturally accepted. Web browsing, by contrast, is more often a non-linear experience – as Internet users we tend to flick constantly between browsers and tabs. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t take some of the principles applied to effective TV advertising and use them to effect on the web page.

Where once banner and skyscraper advertising was the norm, these days we see brands becoming smarter in the way that they display their ads online. We’ve seen ourselves at Say Media how effective emulating ‘the TV experience’ online, can be. Back in 2007 we started to explore the concept of full-page online advertising with Facebook. At a time when Facebook didn’t have solid ad revenue streams we partnered with Facebook app developers to create ads that expanded to provide a larger canvas and cut through the multitude of ad messages. This is where the seeds of full-page ads as a concept began.

Even now the landscape is changing yet again, with basic full-page ads now making way for even more sophisticated forms of digital promotion. Take a look at this example of editorial content merged seamlessly with ad content, created late last year by the New York Times. Called Snow Fall, the concept received acclaim for its integration of ads with regular content. The online advertising of the future is all about ads that exist in a very natural state next to the content. In this regard, it’s print advertising from which the digital landscape increasingly should take its cues. Like flipping the pages of a print magazine, clever ads become a part of the reading experience, adapting to mouse or touch controls to feel native to whichever device they’re experienced on. At Say we have recently developed a concept called Adaptive Ads, an intuitive platform in which ads are designed to appear within the flow of the content.

As digital marketers, we still continue to seek inspiration from all kinds of places. I’ve worked in digital now for 15 years, and I know it can become easy to believe that online marketing is the be all and end all and that all other forms are dying around it. This simply isn’t true – a great 16 sheet poster at the side of the road can still be amazing, if it’s been placed well and has been designed to capture the right audience at the right time. The basic concepts of aesthetics coupled with relevance apply across all mediums – and different mediums can happily take inspiration from one another.

For years we have read about the death of traditional advertising techniques (if you live and breath digital), yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. Traditional techniques have always been, and will continue to be an important and influential part of the modern digital business model.

About the author

Paps Shaikh is the European General Manager of Say Media and leads an experienced team to help connect the world’s leading brands with passionate, engaged audiences. His career has focussed on taking new digital products to market and in the process delivering revenue and customers within the UK and Europe. Previously Paps was Say Media’s Commercial Director (he was promoted to the role of European General Manager in April 2013).

Most recently Paps was VP of Advertising a AdJug. As part of the founding team he designed and implemented the ‘buy-side’ of the commercial product. He headed up the acquisition of agencies as buyers on the marketplace with a great deal of success. AdJug was the first Advertising marketplace to launch in Europe bringing transparency and choice for buyers of digital advertising.

Prior to AdJug Paps held the position of VP of Business Development at, where he was instrumental in launching the company and delivering a robust commercial strategy to take the product to market.

Prior to Videojug Paps was The Director of European Sales at MIVA (formerly known as Espotting Media), where he managed six European sales territories and delivered in excess of $200M pa in advertising revenues. Espotting one of the most successful dotcoms in recent years was valued at $170m at point of sale.

Paps cut his teeth at Emap where he spent five years, starting by selling print advertising and then moving onto digital offerings as early as 1997. At his departure he was Group Advertising Manager with commercial responsibility across a portfolio of products.

About Say Media

Say Media is the pioneer of Point-of-View Publishing™ with a rich portfolio of influential media brands rooted in passionate editorial across key consumer verticals including Style, Living, Men’s and Tech. The company’s next generation media and technology platform allows advertisers to remain prominent throughout the content experience, encouraging engagement and time spent with the brand. This combination of content and technology allows Say Media to provide simple and accountable ways for the world’s top brands to engage with audiences, at scale, with a reach of more than 400 million people globally.  

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