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An introduction to banner adverts by

AS ANYONE USING THE WEB KNOWS, BANNER ADS ARE EVERYWHERE.

They’re a standard format for online advertising so if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, let us give you the lowdown…

WHAT ACTUALLY IS A BANNER ADVERT?

It’s a rectangular shaped piece of advertising embedded into a web page. Banner ads are designed to persuade you to click on them with the intention of driving you to the advertiser’s site (this is known as a ‘click through’) and their main purpose includes; conveying awareness of a message or brand, increasing website traffic and generating sales. Whilst richness and subject are infinitely variable, banner ads are small in size, usually contain text and images and are either static or animated.

Typical examples can be seen on the page below – Orange have used two adverts on one page in this instance (advertising on Yahoo!UK):

Yahoo!UK banner advert example

HOW DO THEY WORK?

An advertiser buys advertising space on a site with related content. To do this you can source the sites you’d like to advertise on yourself or, you can use services like DoubleClick that will help you roll-out your ads across a range of online outlets. Either way the fee mechanism usually involves a ‘payments-by-results’ approach such as pay-per-click.

The banner advert is then embedded into a page with the ultimate aim of achieving high click through rates and low costs per sale. Fathoming a formula for this kind of positive outcome is a process of trial and error as there are a multitude of dynamics that can affect how successful an advert is.

Here are a few things to bear in mind when considering your strategy:

SIZE AND SHAPE:
There are a range of different banner sizes to choose from, this graphic shows some standard banner ad sizes according to the IAB UK. For further specifications you can also check out the IAB US Ad Unit Guidelines

IAB display ad standards 2010

PAGE POSITION:
In this visual, Yoox have taken the highest advertising space on the page with Phones4U and Unilever opting for positions further down. The area above-the-fold is generally considered the most effective but finding the optimum place on a page (and that very much depends on the organisation you’re advertising with as each publisher will be using their own layouts and systems) is under debate. Eye-tracking studies and ‘banner-blindness‘ also have a bearing on where the best positioning for banner adverts might be.

Capital FM banner advert example

NUMBER OF ADVERTS ON A PAGE:
Following a similar line to the Orange approach earlier, Leeds Metropolitan University  have chosen to display numerous adverts on this particular page – if you’re going to do this, look to produce designs that compliment the page itself rather than overpowering it. Striking a balance that is eye-catching without being overbearing to the page content can be tricky, but done well is a really nice way to reinforce your message and brand.

Training Zone banner advert example

TARGETING:
Adverts should be targeted to appear on pages with an offering that is relevant to the market you’re aiming at. The page above is a good example of this – Training Zone are a news hub for organisations and professionals involved with corporate training, while Leeds Metropolitan University have degree, postgraduate and professional courses on offer – this pairing is wholly relevant to the user and mutually beneficial to the advertiser and publisher.

EFFECTIVE CONTENT:
So far we’ve skimmed over the content of your ad – and there is much to consider. To keep it simple, we’ve identified five key things to think about when you’re commissioning campaigns:

  • Make sure you use a coherent and persuasive heading
  • Keep call-to-actions visible
  • Keep offers to a minimum (to aid clarity)
  • Make content (text, images, links etc.) targeted and relevant
  • Consider animation and movement (great ways to attract and focus user attention)

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

So now you know more about banner adverts, we thought we’d close this post by listing the great benefits banner ads offer:

  • Greater interactivity & engagement: Rich content like audio and video encourages users to interact, providing a deeper level of engagement with your message
  • Broader reach: With Google, Facebook and MSN attracting audiences of over 25 million people per month in the UK*, online advertising now provides the means to reach huge audiences via a single channel
  • Brand building: Used with landing pages and integrated marketing campaigns, banner ads are the perfect vehicle for generating brand awareness
  • Targeting, tracking & measurability: Not only can banner ads be targeted to particular audiences (a distinct advantage of online advertising in general), they can also be monitored and analysed during the course of a campaign, giving you the ability to tweak your campaign as it’s happening. Plus, if you’re a business using a behavioural marketing strategy you’ll be pleased to know that banner ads are also able to use cookies – further expanding the sales possibilities for your offering
  • Accessible on mobile: It’s also now possible to reach people on the move using ‘in-app’ and mobile web advertising. But approach with caution, data suggests that 79% of mobile users in the UK find banner ads on mobile irritating** so a more favourable format for users in this space has yet to develop
*Source: http://www.iabuk.net/why-advertise-online/ten-reasons-to-advertise-online
**Source: http://www.bizreport.com/2012/02/study-mobile-banner-ads-very-unpopular.html

Still reluctant to take the plunge? Tell us why! We’d love to hear about the issues you’re facing. And if you’d like to learn more about how you can get started with online advertising please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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