If you’re looking to gain awareness of your brand or direct potential customers to your website, banner advertising might be what you’re looking for. Banner ads can be designed in various sizes, shapes, and styles and can be designed based on your industry and goals. The versatile banner ad is a utility player, able to handle most situations.
Also known as display advertising, banner ads typically feature a combination of an image and text. They can be static images such as a .jpg or .png file, or they can feature multimedia, such as animated gifs, flash or HTML5 animation. Perhaps overused at the birth of the internet with flashing, eye-numbing animations, effective banner ads today typically are much more subtle, designed to catch viewers’ attention while not distracting them from the advertisement’s message or goal. Finding that balance is sometimes harder than it sounds. How do you do catch a viewer’s attention without being overly distracting or obnoxious? Some banner ads include subtle animation, catching the viewers’ attention and directing them to the text on the ad. Perhaps only a small portion of the ad will be animated. Another strategy is to use color for the same objective. For example, a banner might be black and white, with one accent color designed to direct the reader to the advertisement.
Back in the day, banner ads were targeted by simply choosing websites on which to place the ads. Placement-based banner advertising still works in certain limited cases, depending on the industry. But much more advanced and higher-performing forms of banner ad placement and targeting have evolved. Now, banner ads can be targeted based on search history, website visit history, look-alike audiences, and even by matching to a customer or lead list, called CRM-targeted banner advertising. With demographic targeting, banners can reach prospects by age, gender or income. Geographic targeting can be done by country, state, city, distance from a point, IP targeting and even rooftop targeting for certain industries. Also called geofencing, rooftop targeting works well for certain industries that target specific locations, such as colleges that are targeting “feeder schools”.
Banner ads provide two benefits. Like print ads or billboards, they can promote a brand (company or product), a message or an idea. Viewers see the brand and eventually become comfortable with it. They take in the message and even if they do not interact further with the banner ad, it’s mission is accomplished. But because banner ads also are clickable and interactive, they are a form of digital direct response advertising. This is the second benefit. Clicks on banners direct interested prospects to a landing page that (if designed properly), will engage the visitor and in some cases, convert them to a lead or customer. These forms of engagement and lead generation can include a newsletter signup, download, live or animated chat, the Contact Us page or sales page. We’ll talk more about landing page design in the near future.
Like other online advertisements, banner ad performance is easily measurable. At a very basic level, advertisers can see how many prospects viewed and clicked on each ad and can compare performance between ads and websites that are delivering the best click-through rates. With Google Analytics in place, performance measurement is taken to a different level by crossing over to the website. With analytics, advertisers can tell which clicks are delivering the best value in terms of the amount of time clicks spend on the landing page, how many pages are viewed and whether or not clicks are converting to leads or sales.
Here at AdEdge, we run regular AB and multivariate tests on banner ads for our clients where we are constantly testing for the best performing images, copy, calls to action and depending on the business, offers and premiums. By running banner ads in a “test and control” environment, we are able to prove theories about what is driving ad performance within any given industry. Our unique research also gives us insights about ad format performance. For example, square banners perform better than leader boards and towers on most websites and for most industries. And static ads generally perform better than animated ads, again depending on the campaign goals, industry and demographics we are targeting.
Banner ads can be designed in various sizes and shapes and placed in various places on a website. Regardless of the dimensions or specific design, effective banner ads should include your company logo, name, product or service being offered, a unique selling proposition or value proposition and if the ad is to be dual purpose (branding and direct response), a call to action such as watch now, learn more or get started. The text should be easily readable and have a fair amount of white space to keep it uncluttered and “easy on the eyes”. Google Ads requires banner ad file sizes to be under 150k and in .gif, .png or .jpg formats.
Banner ads are a great way to build your company’s brand and attract visits to your website from good, prospective customers. Is your company using banner advertising to its best potential? If not or if you’re not sure, give us a call at (203) 682-4585 or contact us for a free evaluation and some great ideas. If you enjoyed this blog, sign up for our newsletter and get best practices and new tactics in digital marketing delivered straight to your inbox once a month.