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Banner Ads

Short Definition: Advertisements embedded in a webpage and delivered by an ad server.

What Are Banner Ads?

A banner ad, also called a web banner or display ad, is a type of image-based advertisement that encourages web users to click. When a web user clicks a banner ad, they’re taken to a landing page on the advertiser’s site.

Banner ads can be static, animated, or contain a blend of static and animated elements. They also come in a range of sizes and can be placed in a sidebar, at the top or bottom of a web page, or even in the middle of a web page (e.g. embedded within an article). There are several different ways you can get your banner ads on third-party sites:

  • You can make a direct agreement with another website owner to place your ads on their site.
  • You can pay publisher sites to place your ads on websites with whom they partner.
  • You can pay an organization (such as Google) to display your banner ads on different websites that are relevant to your target market.

You can run banner ads through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, or any other display network.

What Are the Goals of Banner Ads?

There are several reasons why a business might run banner ads:

  • Brand Awareness: Banner ads can help increase brand recognition so that when consumers want or need to make a related purchase, they’ll recall the brand.
  • Lead Generation: Banner ads can guide web users to the advertiser’s site, where they can submit contact information in exchange for something from the advertiser (a discount or a free eBook, for example).
  • Conversions: An advertiser might run banner ads offering a great discount or deal so that users are motivated to visit their site and make a purchase. Advertisers can also run retargeted ads for people who have visited their site. For example, if someone looked at the product page for a pair of boots but didn’t buy them, the advertiser can target them with an ad featuring that specific pair of boots to nudge them towards a purchase.

Where Does Banner Ad Traffic Go?

Advertisers can send banner ad traffic to:

  • Conversion-optimized landing pages: Sometimes advertisers use simple landing pages with short contact forms that visitors can complete to redeem an offer from the banner ad. These pages may lack the top navigation bar found on the rest of the advertiser’s site as the goal is to get the visitor to convert, not navigate to other pages.
  • Category pages: If a banner ad is promoting a specific product category, such as winter coats, it should take visitors to the corresponding category page on the advertiser’s site.
  • Product pages: If a banner ad is promoting one specific product, such as a women’s anorak jacket, it should lead visitors to the corresponding product page.
  • Home pages: It’s rare for advertisers to run banner ads that send visitors to their home page, as visitors aren’t likely to convert. However, if an advertiser is running a brand awareness campaign, it may sometimes make sense to direct visitors to their home page.

Best Practices for Banner Ads

Catch the viewer’s eye. Use colors that will stand out (without being obnoxious), consider incorporating animation (again, without being obnoxious), and try placing your call-to-action in a prominent, clickable button.

Keep it short. Your viewer’s eyes aren’t likely to linger on your banner ad for long, so you need to get your message across quickly. Make sure you’re communicating how clicking the banner ad will benefit the viewer.

Display your ads on relevant sites. Rather than trying to plaster your ads all over the web, work with display networks that will allow you to target your ideal customers on the sites they’re most likely to frequent.

Keep testing. It should go without saying that you need to track metrics like impressions (i.e. views), click-through-rate, and conversions with your banner ads. You should also run A/B tests so that you can keep optimizing your ads (and increase your conversions). Good variables to test include your call-to-action, promotion, headline, copy, colors, and images.

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