March 7, 2021

Landscape v Portrait Remarketing Advert Fails

Dr Peter Mowforth

Ad remarketing and behavioural retargeting is a standard component within many ecommerce marketing projects. These adverts are the ones that seem to ‘follow you’ around the web. You visit an ecommerce website and then, after leaving and visiting a completely different site, you see adverts for the ecommerce site you first visited. The ecommerce website does this by automatically setting a cookie in your web browser which is then recognised by the new site. This, in turn, invokes an advert for the original site. I regularly get to see lots of these remarked ecommerce adverts - particularly on news websites.There are various statistics available for what proportion of internet users view screens in landscape (my preference for news sites) or portrait mode. These include:

The main point that shows up in these statistics is that the larger the device, the more likely it is that it is viewed in landscape mode. If we assume that overall, around 10% of phone users are browsing in landscape mode then failure to optimise for these users will still have a significant and noticeable impact on marketing campaign performance. Given that the trend is towards ever larger screens, more attention needs to be given to landscape user-testing protocols. A typical example of a well known news website is Reuters. Browsing in landscape mode using a 5.7 inch Android phone provides two types of advert. The first is where the site simply uses the same sized advert for landscape as is used for the portrait mode. Either, the advertiser didn’t bother designing with the wide format or the website API did not allow one. Whatever the reason, the advert only occupies a mere 38.4% of the available space with the rest being blank:

The second advert completely fails to render and instructs the viewer to “rotate the device” so that they might see the otherwise invisible advert:

Given the size of Thompsons-Reuters (Market Capitalisation is $40.55 billion USD) advertisers, such as the ecommerce companies shown, who are unfortunate enough to be paying large sums of money for advertising on their platform might have expected a better service. Although these “rotate your device” errors are less frequent, the first example where adverts use less that the full width of the screen are commonly seen on many other websites.The main call to action here is for those involved in the paid marketing industry to undertake thorough and detailed testing of what their own or their clients adverts look like. Failing to do so minimises value for those paying out considerable sums of money for marketing. Worse still, it brings the industry into disrepute when so many marketing channels fail these most basic of tests.

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