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Banner Ads: Size, Placement, Effectiveness

Banner ads are text and pictures typically placed on high traffic web sites. When you click on a banner ad, it sends you to the advertised web site.

Banner ads are largely anchoring or branding devices. Think of a jingle on a radio: when you hear the jingle, do you feel compelled to suddenly buy the product? Not really. You hear the jingle over and over, and eventually, develop AWARENESS of the company or its product.

In the same way, most banner ads are generally not designed to generate immediate click-throughs. They are designed to be an awareness and anchoring device, not an immediate lead generator. Nationally, banner ad click-through rates are less than 1% (and seem to be declining every day). Banner ads are generally sold in terms of impressions (how many times they will be VIEWED) instead of click-throughs (how many times they will be, well, clicked upon!)

Like ads on TV or radio, people can both love and hate the concept and execution of banner ads. People tend to say that they dislike blinking ads that distract them from the content of the page: however, the same people will click on these banner ads to go to the advertiser's site! (Another off-line comparison: people also say they hate commercials because they interrupt the program -- but they remember the commercials.)

Banner Ad Placement Concept #1: Paid Banner Ads and Psychographic Marketing

Instead of a traditional focus on the demographics (gender, age, income, etc.), banner ads let you narrow your target audience to people who have an acute intellectual interest in your product. You are using psychographic internet marketing savvy when you promote your website with a banner ad on a high-traffic website that has content related to whatever you sell. For instance, if you sell car parts, you may want to run banner ads on high-traffic sites where people browse to learn about automobiles. People visiting these sites are likely to have an interest in your products, so they are also likely to have an interest in visiting your site.

Costs - A common banner ad package may consist of 100,000 impressions. CPM (cost per thousand) can be from $20 to $100 per thousand impressions, with $50 being about average (October, 2000). Positioning - Ad placement significantly effects response rates. A home page may get the most traffic, but placing an ad deeper within the site may provide a more targeted audience. The IAB and CASIE have recognized these sizes as the most popular and most accepted on the Internet:

Standard Internet Ad Sizes

468 x 60 Full banner

392 x 72 Full Banner/ Vertical Navigation Bar

234 x 60 Half Banner

125 x 125 Square Button

120 x 90 Button #1

120 x 60 Button #2

88 x 31 Micro Button

120 x 240 Vertical Banner

Banner Ad Placement Concept #2: "Free" Banner Ads and Banner Ad Placement

Weigh your non-money choices marketing choices carefully. Free stuff always has a price - always ask somebody who wants to give you something for free what they want in return, if not moola. In the case of banner ads, usually a "free" banner ad developer or placement service wants reciprocal links back to a site of their choosing. Carefully weigh the value of what is described as "free". What will a "free" link associate your business with, beyond mere cheap-skatism? You may be spreading your name and image on sites where browsers have no interest in your product whatsoever, and lose your psychographic edge. Worse, you may be associated with links to less-than-quality sights and suffer image degradation. "Free" can have some very high costs that you need to consider carefully.

Execution Concept: Do-It-Yourself Banner Ad Design Tips

  • Retail software stores offer inexpensive software packages dedicated solely to banner creation. You can also download banner ad design shareware from the internet.
  • When designing banners, keep them between 5 and 20K. The faster your banner loads, the more likely it will be seen.
  • Animated banners tend to be more effective than static banners at generating click-throughs.
  • Use ALT attribute in the image tags of your banners. Many people surf with images turned off. The ALT attribute will describe the content of the banner and can bring people to your site, even if they can't see the image!
  • Balance between being too creative and not-creative-enough. Use short action phrases (like, "Click here!" or "Find out more!") and eye-popping graphics.
  • Use the standard sizes listed above, for ease of placement.
  • Don't forget to measure the success of your banner ad campaign! Check your log files for click through rates from your banner(s).
  • Compare your banner performance against sales. Is there a direct correlation? Do sales increase as click-throughs increase?
  • Adjust your campaign where necessary. Deploy only the top performing banners. Change placements that are not performing. Rework copies of banners that are performing well to include similar messages or images.

Bottom Line:

The overall effectiveness of banner advertising is dramatically decreasing due to clutter and saturation. A few years ago, they worked to a limited extent because they were relatively unique.

Now, with the advent of permission marketing, most intrusive-type advertising is becoming less and less effective.

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Laura Bergells is an internet attraction and distance learning specialist. To learn how to be extremely attractive, visit to learn more about "attraction vs. promotion." Download free PowerPoint Templates!


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