When it comes to advertising, we sometimes feel as talented as Don Draper in Mad Men – one of the best (fictional) advertisers in the game. However, advertising has continued to evolve since the 1960s and this is partly due to how expansive the internet has become with trading.
For example, there was no banner advertising until recently. For first class ad placement, banner ads are the way to go and have cemented their role in increasing sales for marketers.
What exactly are banner ads and how do they work? We have a simplified version that you can use to explain it to everyone.
What are banner ads?
A banner advertisement, also known as a display ad, is similar to a digital billboard in that it uses images (hence the term “banner”) to attract attention to drive traffic to the advertiser’s website.
Banner ads are placed on websites in high-traffic locations, creating brand awareness and generating click-throughs, purchases and leads. These highly visible areas include the front, bottom or side of a website. Places where browsers’ eyes usually wander.
A great banner ad catches the reader’s attention and invites them to learn more about what is being advertised. They’re bright, welcoming, and don’t have a lot of text. Instead, they use pictures or multimedia to deliver a message. Take a look at this ad as an example:
The LinkedIn banner ad was found in the sidebar of a webpage I was browsing. It was big enough to grab my attention and welcoming enough for me to linger in the ad.
This is how banner ads work
Suppose you are a publisher. You can drive a lot of traffic to your content because it is helpful and valuable, but there is no way you can monetize your efforts. However, your website has a lot of valuable real estate that advertisers could benefit from.
This makes selling this space an attractive proposition. To do this, you can log into a display network. A display network helps you connect with advertisers by providing a script that you can add to your website. This script automatically fills display ads without you lifting a finger. AND you get a “commission” for every click of the ad that comes from your website. Monetization … Success!
Now let’s look at it from the other side of the coin. Suppose you are an advertiser. You want to increase your brand visibility so that your ads will appear on high traffic websites that your target customers visit. You pay the Display Network directly (rather than the publishing house) for ad placements, and you can choose the types of websites that your banner ads will appear on. When this is effective, you will get a low cost per click and this translates into real ROI for your business.
A win for the publisher and the advertiser!
Are Banner Ads Effective?
Banner advertising falls under the category of digital advertising, one of the most lucrative ways to generate income. In fact, digital ad revenue hit a milestone of over $ 28.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019.
Banner advertising is lucrative because of programmatic advertising. This term describes how advertisers serve ads. The software of these programs matches advertisements with the interests of the website browser.
For illustration purposes, let’s say the LinkedIn ad team wanted to use Google AdSense as their display network. Google AdSense would then sell LinkedIn a sidebar area on websites that are more popular with professionals, such as: B. Investopedia. This secures LinkedIn more potential for total sales.
To determine if banner advertising is effective for you, it is important to understand how the costs are shared with this advertising method.
Banner advertising costs
Because it is an auction system, the cost of a banner ad campaign will vary based on the display network you choose, ad size, competitiveness of your industry, popularity and type of website placements you deserve, and more. However, according to WordStream, the cost per click for a banner ad on the Google Display Network averages about $ 0.58.
There are two different pricing models for banner advertising:
- Cost per Mille (CPM) – The price for 1,000 impressions (i.e., “seen” 1,000 times).
- Cost per click (CPC) – The price for each ad click
The price structures vary between the individual display networks. However, an “auction” system is typically used where you bid on your ad placements. In many cases, you can choose whether to bid based on a CPC or CPM model. The former is better for conversions while the latter is better for brand awareness and visibility.
The better your bid, the easier it is to meet your advertising goals. In many cases, the Display Network will help you optimize your budget and time frame to get the most out of your ads.
After you have an idea of the average price tags for banner ads, you can imagine that ad placement and banner size have a huge impact on how often your ads are seen and clicked. Let’s take a closer look at these two variables below:
Placement of banner advertisements
The display network you choose should have transparent information about which websites or posting locations your ads are showing on. For example, here is the Google page on the topic.
Ideally, you want your ads to be placed in front of your ideal audience (and not just anyone) so that you get the right traffic that has higher potential to convert into real leads for your business. With this in mind, you should be familiar with your display network’s targeting capabilities so that you can control this effectively.
While advertisers have a lot of leeway over the websites they appear on, they may not have much control over where they appear on this website. The placement of ads on the page is in the hands of the publisher. However, you have a financial incentive to run ads in high quality locations. Remember, they receive a “commission” from the Display Network. With this banner, ads will perform best when they:
- Close to the content
- Above the fold
- On the left
The control and design of the ads that an advertiser creates is more within the advertiser’s control.
Standard sizes for banner advertising
One of the main factors in the effectiveness of your campaign is the dimensions you choose for your ad (s). The right size and design can have a huge impact on the click-through rate and overall effectiveness of your ad. Here are the most common ad sizes chosen by advertisers:
- Medium banner: 300 x 250
- Ranking: 728 x 90
- Wide skyscraper: 160 x 600
- Half page: 300 x 600
- Large ranking: 970 x 90
- Billboard: 970 x 250
- Large rectangle: 336 x 280
- Skyscraper: 120 x 600
- Small square: 200 x 200
- Square: 250 x 250
- Vertical banner: 120 x 240
- Full banner: 468 x 60
- Half banner: 234 x 60
- Portrait: 300 x 1050
Knowing the sizes required for your banner ads is important – however, this is not your only consideration. To ensure that your ad banners are effective for target audiences, there are a few tricks we need to consider while designing yours.
How to create banner ads
- Integrate a CTA.
- Add your brand.
- Make sure you use keywords.
- Choose high quality graphics.
- Keep things simple.
Let’s say you have all the tools to create your banner ad. While the actual execution of the design is up to you, it’s important to include these elements in your ad to make sure it’s effective, and not just something that is cluttering a webpage.
To illustrate the steps, use this 300×200 banner ad from Mailchimp on the entrepreneur’s website.
1. Integrate a CTA.
A call-to-action (CTA) invites potential buyers to learn more about your product or service. This gets them to click on the ad and learn more. Mailchimps CTA is the blue Get Started button at the bottom of the display.
A bright, eye-catching CTA is pointing your audience in the right direction, and linking to your product page is a great way to get clicks on your website.
2. Add your brand.
If your logo is not visible, then how do people know what your company is? The Mailchimp logo is in a vacant space at the bottom of the ad. The logo does not have to occupy the entire ad or interrupt the rest of the flow, it just needs to be recognizable under the other images in the ad.
3. Make sure you are using keywords.
Using keywords and action elements not only optimizes your ad for search engines, but it also gives you a better chance that browsers will interact with your ad because your service sounds right to them. Mailchimp uses words like “award winning”, “support” and “getting started”.
When I was looking for marketing tools to make my life easier, the award-winning software that provides support sounds like me. When it’s as easy to get started as the click of a button, there’s no reason not to at least check it out.
4. Use high quality graphics.
To keep your ad professional, any visual elements, such as images or GIFs, should be of high quality. While moving images are one way to keep ads interesting, static images are just as effective.
Mailchimp’s pics are fun and get the point across. Your logo is also a way to convey images and ensure that your brand is remembered by the audience.
5. Keep things simple.
A crowded ad is nothing more than a nuisance to web browsers. An effective ad has minimal text, an image or two, and a CTA. Mailchimp’s ad is one sentence and contains large text.
Some banner ads contain no text or images at all, just a logo and CTA. While your ad doesn’t have to be as minimalistic, it doesn’t have to contain as much information as you might think. If your ad has more than a short sentence, it might be too much.
Best examples of banner advertising
Let’s look at some great uses of banner advertising and why they’re effective.
1. Pottery Barn
This desk display from Pottery Barn is a great example of how a little goes a lot. A showroom photo that highlights the practicality of desks shows how easily your furniture fits into a room.
With the logo, an engaging call to action, and a simple design, it covers all five of an incredible banner ad and it’s effective. For students browsing Amazon or professionals setting up their home office, this ad is an excellent choice.
2. Blue blood
CBS’s banner ad for one of their shows has an amazing CTA. “Try 1 Week Free” entices the audience to watch the new streaming service CBS All Access.
Using an already popular show and streaming all the episodes attracts binge watchers. This ad also includes the show’s logo and star. Plus, viewers get all the information they need without looking too crowded.
Popular SEO extension SEMrush used the small selection of rectangular banner ads that are not only pocket-friendly but also useful for ads that don’t require much information to get the point across.
In this ad, SEMrush tells you exactly what the service is offering in less than 20 words. The keywords “UX”, “SEO”, “Time”, and “Page Speed” are all golden here. They effectively attract the attention of companies looking to improve their analytics.
Providing all of a car’s technical data in an advertising banner is not possible without the ad looking too busy. Chevy chose to play with text to keep the information there without being overwhelming. In addition, they chose important information and wording to ensure that the impact is as large as possible.
Chevy also made a point of incorporating color into key words. The discount for this car and the CTA are both yellow, which draws attention directly to these two elements of the ad.
5. The New Yorker
Minimalism goes very far, and the New Yorker knows it.
The magazine is offering a promotion that includes a free subscription shopping bag. The images of both products that a new subscriber receives are a great way to use images. The price here is in bold which means it matters.
6. AT & T.
Good advertising often depends on how we can force the user to act.
What could be better for AT&T than taking the opportunity to get something of value completely free of charge? This creates interest (“What do I have to do to qualify?”) And encourages the user to take the next step.
7. Best Buy
Convenience is also an important concept to consider. How can we create offers while reducing the friction that potential customers face when using these offers?
Best Buy does this exceptionally well in this banner advertisement. You probably knew that one obstacle to buying a phone online from Best Buy is to activate it in-store. In this ad, they reassure their audience that this is not necessary, which implies that “buying from us is convenient, so shop without worries”. This is especially relevant when people may actively avoid hectic holiday shopping.
This ad shows a partnership between Coca-Cola and an NFL team that positions the drink on game day as a good choice.
Two things stand out about this ad:
- The natural use of Coke’s product placement in the picture
- The offer is not a sales-oriented “buy now”, but an invitation to receive added value from the Coca’Cola website
Here’s another great example of an ad that differs from the seller.
Conversica offers something of value (exploring sales capacity) and positions the conversation based on how they can help. This puts the focus on the buyer’s needs rather than the “me me me me” type of sale.
10. Dale Carnegie Training
This ad does really well with the small horizontal format.
In addition, the ad leverages Dale Carnegie’s existing brand awareness to deliver a compelling message that is essentially “learning from the best in the business”.
11. E * TRADE
The bold color in this ad goes well with its bold statement.
With the copywriting in this ad, E * TRADE is reducing friction by promoting the following idea: “When you open an account with us, you get something (up to $ 600) with no risk ($ 0 commissions).” As a result, that $ 600 number seems like a sweet deal.
The genius of this advertising banner lies in its simplicity.
Instapage makes a bold assertion that piques interest and then deposits that the user must click to get confirmation as to why that bold assertion is true. Plus, they do it in a few words, which allows for clean, bold typography and illustration.
13. Loan tree
In some cases, such as the following, a banner advertisement may even include animation and interactivity.
Lendingtree takes advantage of this by incorporating a slider that the user can use to calculate a mortgage amount. The button then takes them to complete the next step by clicking on the ad and going to their website. There is a clear utility in this ad which is why it is so impressive.
Banner blindness, or the idea that people just stop noticing ads, is a real problem. However, the way to get around this is to use an eye-catching design.
Popeyes does this well with contrasting warm and cool colors combined with big, bold typography. When you put the food in the center, the eye is drawn and the picture speaks for itself too.
People love coupons, and this ad takes advantage of them.
Simply sharing vacation purchases and saving money is a simple message … but extremely effective.
You have likely interacted with a lot of banner ads with minimal knowledge of them. The truth is that they are a great asset for driving traffic to your website and expanding your audience. Not that complicated, is it?
With the right advertising plan combined with great ad design and copy, you are well on the way to generating ROI for your business with display advertising.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for completeness.