|The Truth About Banner Ads|
Name 3 banner ads you've seen today...
The problem with banner ads is that Joe-Average Consumer has learned to tune them out. It's just like the ads on the cork board at the local grocery store - You gradually learn not to look.
I travel the Internet heavily, and I can tell you that I don't remember a specific ad I've seen today... Or yesterday...
In fact, I probably have clicked on about 2 banners all month. That puts my personal CTR at about .01% this month, maybe less. Now, I look at most web pages I visit for design ideas and new concepts, so I don't ignore as much as Joe-Average consumer.
So what does that tell us? Banner Advertising is like those road-sign ads... We remember the name or maybe a single item on the ones we read several times, but in general they don't pay. I can't even remember a single road-side ad I've seen this month, and I drive by many twice a day.
Why do you think Yahoo and those sorts of companies lose so much money? They were offering advertising rates in the $100/thousand impresses level, and people look at Yahoo!'s content, not their ads. Talk to me about targeted marketing all you want... I still have never clicked through a Yahoo! targeted banner ad.
The Banner advertising business model is dead. Banner ads are okay as a secondary source of income, but anyone depending on banner ads for sales in today's market needs to do a serious reality check.
There is one banner that stuck in my mind yesterday cuz it was done in Flash and it was extremely cool...really eye catching. I didn't click on it though.
Yes and No.
Yes, my personal CTR is something like .001 (really). But, I'd venture a bet that the average member here at WmW is a little more jaded on banners than John Q.
As a publisher with somewhere around a million pageviews available in inventory last month, I can tell you that Run Of Network banner campaigns with even fair-to-good creative get .5% CTR. With better than average creative and moderately targeted buys, I see CTR approaching 2.0%. (These are 468x60's, top of page.) Looking at the "cost-per-click" reports, I see some $20 CPM campaigns bringing in clicks at 3-17 cents apiece. Considering a junk snailmail campaign costs a minimum of 50 cents a shot -that's if you're buying a cheap, untargeted mailing list- these advertisers haven't done so poorly.
What were the last 3 billboards I saw on the side of the highway? Funny, I can't recall.
The new skyscraper ads are getting my attention. I can remember a couple of them.
I agree the standard banner format is on the way out, but there are different avenues currently being explored such as different ad sizes, exploring an ad while staying on the original site, performance based adveristing, etc.
IMO, banner peformance will improve, but not with the old typical standard 468x60 plain jane banner. It will take more widespread use of new sizes and their implementation, and some serious recovery in this industry as a whole.
That said, I don't things will ever be as good as they were, but I think they will eventually be much better than what we have now. Sites that innovate and target properly, I think, will find the gems that work.
Not only proper targetting makes a difference, but a more well-rounded approach can help as well. Gone are the days of creating an excellent content site, and relying on banner CPMs as a sole source of revenue. Mixing text links into content, content partnering with paid benefits, and using similar alternative methods will be more successful than just looking for great CPM deals.
It's just like SEO, you don't just get a yahoo listing, submit to a few SEs and sit around waiting for traffic - you get other listings like ODP and looksmart, start tweaking your pages, watching your rankings, consider using goto and inktomi PFP schemes.
Advertising is growing to be the same way - you can't just slap up some banner code and call it a day any more. It takes work finding your user demographic, and then takes time working that demographic.
Online advertising is slowly evolving, and I think it will eventually evolve into something that works.
Three ads? Sure, no problem.
1. AMD Athlon/DDR seen at CNET News.com - I reflected on how much time is saved every day thanks to my new AMD CPU... also thought about how much faster an Athlon would crank out pages on an ugraded server.
(read = ongoing relationship)
2. Winstar Interactive - cute, funky little ads with a clear message. They are firmly lodged in the back of my mind, sure to surface if the need arises.
(read = humor + message)
3. WebTrends - this one is easy to recall, as I see it every business day. Coincidentally, I may be in the market for their software in the near future. They are in front of me during every step of the decision process.
(read = frequency, frequency, frequency)
...do I win a prize? ;)
This doesn't even count some of the mind-bogglin' Flash ads I have seen in the past few weeks. I think we are finally ready for rich media ads to make a much bigger impact. And it won't be because of more animation, but more interactivity. Some of these Flash ads are like mini-sites.
Okay, I have two things left to say...
#1 Read the following sentence and tell me how many F's you see.
FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.
Then read it carefully again. Your first instinct is to say 3, but in truth there are 6. The human mind when quickly reading a sentence blanks out the word "of". The same is true for expected banner placements.
#2 I agree that new banner styles are needed to bump click ratios up. But the problem is most of the methods used to make banners more eye-catching are to make them bigger. I'm sorry, but my content is more important to my viewers than the banners I present, as much as I'd like to beleive otherwise. So my suggestion is that banners must be placed differently, so they avoid hiding like the word "of" in the above example.
I agree Flash banners are great, but most of the web sites in the 100,000-250,000 banner views per month category don't get advertisers that program in flash. As nice as it would be, it just doesn't happen. So I think banner placement is a much easier way of changing CTRs.
Interesting example, I did find 3 the first time.
Good point and agree with you, placement is a big issue.
But, I'm not sure there will be any one magic bullet here. I think a combination of some different sizes (yes, they are pushing bigger, but to me different=better - try buttons, they work great for me), some rich media, some interactivity, some targetting, and definitely agree with some better placement - all may be important. Some variant set of these innovations will eventually work, IMO.
Any particular size, shape and/or color seem to work best?
Well, not really. I usually make my own, to be different/unique. (I only use buttons on programs that perform well.)
I use color, location, and size that fits the ad and where I want it to go.
Some common (appoximate) sizes I have used are 100x50, 150x25, and 75x75.
A lot of times I will do a screen capture on the ad's target site, and make a button from some kind of graphic on their home page. Ties in well, and you have a unique button.
>screen capture on the ad's target site
And I guess that's ok as long as you're an affiliate, re: copyright issues, right?
Well, on a large scale, that could possibly be a problem.
I would think an advertiser would be glad for you to produce quality traffic even if you use some of their own creative.
But, technically, you probably could have a problem if an advertiser were dumb enough to give you heat about it.
I have done this for a couple of years without problems, but I would do my homework before doing it on a larger scale.
This is only for CPA deals. Never modify any creative for CPC or CPM.