Some years ago, Banner Ads used to be the “flavour of the month” and were very widely used. They went out of popularity, but are still quite common, and can also be very effective when couple with PPC Campaigns. But banner ads are not created equal. Some are effective in conveying your message, while some are ignored. Low click rates are not necessarily the result of the medium but rather, the effectiveness of your banner ads in building brand awareness, generating click-throughs, and boosting sales depends on how it was created.
Better to show a banner than show nothing.
Not advertising at all means no sales at all. People have to get to know about you before they’ll buy from you. Compare banner advertising to a newspaper of 50 pages. There are a lot of ads in a newspaper. Quite frankly, you’re not going to see all of the ads even if you look at each and every page. Most websites are designed in an organised fashion where only a few ads are shown at a time. This gives you a better likelihood of having your banner shown.
To make sure that your banner advertising dollars are spent well, your banners must be designed and implemented with the following characteristics:
1. Keep your message short and simple.
You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of the viewer. Hence, you must be able to get your point across in a few words, as a wordy ad won’t get read. Find the right words and images – including animated GIFs ofr flash that allow short messages to rotate – to trigger action. Too much clutter adversely affects the performance of a banner and negatively impacts on a banner’s ability to brand. Concise ads are successful because they deliver a message or name that the viewer can remember.
2. Provide something interesting to viewers.
It is not necessarily true that people do not read ads. People only read what is interesting to them – and sometimes, it can be an ad. Making the case for targeted placements, your banners will only be successful if you seek out people receptive to your message. You banners will simply be part of the clutter to be ignored if you serve up your ads to viewers who considers your message irrelevant to them.
3. Give people a reason to click.
Viewers will only respond to a compelling proposition. Your banners must be attractive or interesting enough to be successful in generating even the slightest flicker of response. People react favourably to banners that provide them a chance to win something. A banner where they can get something for free or a special discount also gets high click rates. Develop your banner’s message around the most persuasive reason why people would want to go to your site, be it the information you provide, special offers and promotions, or products that can make their life much better.
4. Develop follow-through mechanisms.
Leading users who clicked on your banners to your home page is acceptable if your advertising goal is to develop branding for your site. However, if you offered a special promotion or solicit a specific action from the user, you must create follow-through mechanisms for these users. A special page explaining the promotion in detail, for example, provides visual or messaging clues about what to do next. In addition, having a special page for each of your banners can help you determine which creative is more effective in bringing in traffic or sales.
5. Always test your ads.
Before going full-blast in your campaign, you need to test your banners with a subset of your target audience. You should experiment with various banner designs to gauge the appeal of your promotional offers and the type of message that brings a high-interest customer. Most ad networks now allow advertisers to conduct a test run.
6. Consider using rich media.
Rich media banners, which include animation, sound and other special effects, can increase your response rate. These banners could facilitate e-commerce and may even lead to instant revenues. Some rich media banners have a built-in order area, expandable order forms, and even secure server technology to protect credit card transaction. The drawback, however, is that rich media banners will cost more to produce and place; and they are not available on all web sites. Plus, the banners can sometimes slow down web page loading times. If you have the resources, try incorporating rich media in a banner and test how it performs with standard banners.
Finally…Some Quick Design /Content Tips
- Banner Ads are 468 x 60 pixels in dimension. This is a standard size.
- Banner ads should be 15k or less in size. Otherwise they take too long to load.
- Display your website address on your banner. This way, if nothing else, the viewer sees your website.
- Always include your company name on the banner.
- Include just one main benefit or interest point on your banner. Something that would immediately draw an interested parties attention.
- Use fonts that are easily readable.
- Use colours and designs that are attractive but not gawdy. If you’re not sure, ask some friends what they think.
- Look at the ad and ask yourself if you would understand what this banner is trying to advertise. Don’t assume that people understand what you’re trying to sell. If after looking at it, you don’t understand what you’re selling, please redo the ad. Ask your friends to critique the ad for you.
- Make the best use of ad space. Let’s face it, 468×60 is not a lot of space. You have to get the best value for the space.
- Make a few ads and then test them out to see which ones perform better. Even though you feel you’ve made the best ad in the world, you might find better results with different ads. It happens all the time.