Banner ads are the pioneers of internet marketing. The first commercial appeared on http://www.hotwired.com (now http://www.wired.com) on October 27, 1994 in the form of an AT&T advertisement. Since then, banner ads have taken over the internet in a variety of ways.
An advertising banner is a graphic promotion that is used on websites as a form of advertising. Banner ads can be any size you want, however the accepted standard is 468 pixels wide by 60 pixels high. Due to the wide acceptance of this size, the same banner ad can be used on most websites without having to reconfigure the size and layout. Although banner advertisements can be used to advertise your phone number, address, or whatever else you want, the actual purpose of banner advertisements is to get someone to click on them and access your website.
There is a lot of controversy about the effectiveness of banners. Some people swear by them, others swear by them, saying they are not worth working for. Although click-through rates have been steadily declining, the same can be said for ad prices. The average click-through rate is in the 0.5% range for banner ads. But, with a good banner layout and placement, it is still possible to achieve a good return on investment, combining below-average ad rates and above-average response rates.
Banner ads are sold in three ways: cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), pay-per-click (PPC), or pay-per-action (PPA).
Buying a PPC banner is usually more expensive than base CPM, but it can be much more effective because people actually take some action by clicking on your site. One of the drawbacks of PPC banner advertising is that a person can click on an ad more than once and will be charged for each click. However, some ad providers track the IP address and only charge one click per computer per day. However, most places don’t do this for the simple reason that it means less money in your pocket.
The effectiveness of cost-per-impression banners can vary quite a bit, depending on their location on the web page and you usually (not always) pay the same if the banner is prominently displayed at the top of the page or hidden in a Lower corner. Most CPM banner sites rotate banners across the site (Run of Site – ROS) and across the page. Banner ads to reach the general public are typically priced at $ 1 to $ 10 CPM, while targeted sites can fetch CPM rates of $ 30 to $ 50 or more. Although it may not sound like much, banner ads can be quite expensive. Do the math with me:
If you’re paying $ 10 CPM and the click-through rate is an industry average of 0.5%, then it costs you $ 10 to get 5 people to your site, or $ 2 per person. If 2% of your site visitors make a purchase, your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is $ 100 ($ 2/2%). That means for every transaction you make, you have to pay $ 100 in advertising fees. Some websites fail to even convert 2% of visitors into customers, especially when they originate from a banner ad.
For banner ads to be effective, you must combine above-average click-through rates with below-average banner prices and sell a high-priced product, a high-margin product (such as an information product), or have a strong back end in place for you to make money on the second, third, fourth, and even twentieth sale.
Pay-per-action banners are usually the most expensive, as you only pay for a desired action. This can be a product sale, getting someone to sign up for an email list, or any other action you want. PPA banners can be very similar to an affiliate program and use the same type of tracking.
Like link exchange, some companies have banner exchange programs. Most banner exchange programs are free, and some may require you to pay a monthly administration fee in order to cover their costs.
Many of the free companies make money by the proportionate proportion of banners displayed on their site, vs. their banners are displayed on other sites. Let’s say you need to place a certain banner on your site for a total of 10,000 impressions, but you only get 8,000 impressions of your banner on someone else’s site in return. This is how these sites are funded. They sell the 2,000 additional impressions you lose, to make a profit.
Some banner exchanges are pure and simple; I will put your banner on my site, if you put mine on yours. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this if both sites are of similar interest and get comparatively the same amount of traffic.
Some sites will keep track of your statistics and others will allow you to load multiple banners so that they can be rotated on the sites where they are placed. This way you can determine what works best if you pay per impression. It is also always a good idea to use your own ad tracker so that you can follow the clicks on your site and see how many actually lead to a sale.
Some banner exchange companies will actually design the banner for you as part of their program. Although I suggest you design, (or have designed) your own banners. If you are going to let the banner exchange company design it for you, make sure you are on target. Some of these companies use software that automatically creates their banner without being touched by human hands and without being seen by human eyes, until it reaches yours. As with any type of advertising, the design, wording, and call-to-action of your banner is very important.
Since the purpose of a banner is to stop, really interrupt the surfer’s train of thought, clicking on a banner is an impulsive decision. People need a reason to make an impulsive decision, so give them one. The following are some tips to help generate the highest possible click-through rate:
– Have a call to action. Always say “click here” on your banner, or some variation of it. I know this sounds too simple, but it is often overlooked and can easily double your click-through rates.
– Add a button. Placing the words “click here” on a real or obvious button on your banner improves response.
– There is no place for subtlety in posters. Your banner should scream your message.
– Try asking questions: “Do you want to save 15% on your car insurance in 15 minutes?” Questions work better than statements, especially when used to provoke the audience. Studies have shown that by changing a statement to a question, you can increase your click-through rate by 16%.
– If appropriate, use humor. Make sure it’s really fun and get other people’s opinions first. Very often, something that may be funny to you, other people may not understand.
– Use bright primary colors. The brightest colors attract the attention of visitors. Blue, green and yellow cause the most clicks. Stay away from transparent colors, either in the foreground or in the background; They tend to get lost in the colors of most websites, so stick with solid colors.
– Use a simple animation. Moving images and flickering animation attract visitors to your banner. The strategic use of movement captures attention more effectively than static posters. Don’t make them too wild or complicated so that the message gets lost, the senses get overloaded, and / or the file size is too large.
– Offer a reward or a gift when someone clicks on your banner. It will help motivate people to click. Contests work well too, especially if you’re giving away money. Money is the biggest motivator.
– Run a series of banners. It may take more than one message to tell your story or to go after a particular market. Run a series of banners and vary your message. Keep your message consistent and catchy so your visitors will want to read more. After the fourth printing of the same banner, most people tend to unconsciously block it in their mind.
– Keep the copy short. Think of billboard advertising: the average person spends six seconds looking at a billboard, and you have less than a third of that time on the web. Write a compelling copy. Use action words that motivate.
– Use italics if you can. Although they don’t have a huge impact, they can increase click-through rates by a few percentage points compared to standard typefaces.
– Create curiosity. A large part of those who click on ads do so out of curiosity. Studies show that curious clickers are based on many demographic and other characteristics, so targeting based on curiosity can be very effective when you have a general interest product or service.
– Use wide banners or tall skyscraper banners. They are clicked on significantly more than smaller, thinner, or square banners.
– Make your banner file size small, so it loads quickly; 10-30kb is typical for a 468 by 60 pixel banner.
Some tips for implementing banner ad campaigns
First, determine if you think a banner ad campaign would be worth participating in. Consider banner costs, compared to a half-percent average click-through rate, your sites’ conversion rate, profit margins, and customer LOV (Lifetime Value).
Determine where and on which sites you want to consider placing your banner ads, taking into account cost, banner placement, payment types (PPC, CPM, PPA), and whether or not it is a targeted site. Find some websites that complement yours.
Contact the site where you want to place your ad and ask if they have a rate sheet and learn about their payment options. You can also see if they offer special offers or discounts if you buy in bulk, or even just ask for a better deal. Many times they will give you one simply because you asked for it.
Read the submission guidelines. This generally covers things like:
– Maximum file size
– Accepted file types (commonly .gif, .jpg and flash – .swf)
– Accepted banner sizes
– Deadlines for submission and review
– How many banners can you send for rotating campaigns? How often do the banners rotate?
– How do you determine where your banner is placed on each page?
– Do you pay for placement or is it random?
Keep track of all your banner statistics. Although the company you are advertising with can do this for you, it is also a good idea to follow up yourself. This way, you can track and determine results like your conversion rate, ROI, CPC (cost per click), and click-through rate for each banner.
All in all, banner advertising can be a key part of your online marketing campaign. Depending on all the key factors mentioned above, it may or may not be an economically viable part of your marketing campaign, if it can bring you profit. If you can’t, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to profitably market your business online.