Are banners worth the money? If you were to take an example from what most of the advertisers on the internet are doing, you’d have to answer: “no, they’re not”.
Various data sources inform that the number of advertisers, who were using image ads (banners) on Google AdWords at the end of 2009, is equal to the total number of advertisers who were using AdWords back in 2001.
This means that currently only a small percentage of advertisers are using banners, and because of that, there’re a lot of people who proclaim that banners are no longer effective in today’s internet.
Is it really the case? Should you forget about banners and move on?
Despite such clear signals I advise you to include banners in your marketing, because…
Reports of the death of banners have been greatly exaggerated
Yes. Banners are alive and they’re doin’ fine.
Firstly, such small competition among AdWords’ advertisers should be considered as a clear encouragement. What you should also remember about is the fact that some of the partner websites on AdSense allow you to display only image (or video) ads. So if you have text ads alone then your advertisements won’t get displayed on these sites. The conclusion is that: banners in your advertising arsenal increase the number of potential websites on which your ad can be shown.
Secondly, banners are just like any other marketing vehicle. Different methods produce different results for different businesses. Sometimes it’s worth buying a billboard, sometimes printing out gazillion flyers seems to be enough, sometimes a print ad in Playboy magazine is sufficient, sometimes hiring a couple of canvassers brings a profit, and sometimes investing in creation of several banner ads pays off well.
There are thousands of methods of attracting new customers and there is no possibility to know which one will be the most profitable until we test them all (80/20 principle). Each business is different and there’s no sure-fire way to get customers. That’s why you should test at least some of the methods and constantly observe which one gives you the best results.
You’ll never be able to say that banners either will or will not work for your business and maintain clear conscience at the same time until you test them yourself. BUT
There’s one big problem with banners…
Banners have been present on the internet since the very beginning. Internet users are aware of what banners are and what do they look like. What they also know is that banners usually show something that is completely unrelated to the website they’re currently browsing. The result of such experience is that users have stopped noticing them… to be more precise – users have stopped noticing anything that looks anything similar to a banner.
But this problem does not affect every single kind of user. The good news is that if you’re targeting your campaign to the users below the age of 7 then this problem won’t keep you awake at night. This sole type of user is not blind yet…
Paradoxically, the better the banner is… the worse it is. (Makes sense doesn’t it?)
Another thing you should remember about when deciding to use banners in your campaign is the necessity to measure their efficiency.
Clicks are not all that matters
The fact whether a banner is effective or not depends on what your goal is. Was it supposed to drive traffic to your website? Or the main purpose was to do some branding? Or maybe you’re running for president and the votes are what really matters?
Unfortunately, as you can see that only the first one is that you can actually measure… and the truth is that an effective banner is not simply the one that drives the most traffic back to your website, because the traffic itself means nothing really.
You have to come up with your own performance analysis system for banners which will fulfill your needs and requirements.
Here’re some ideas:
Clicks are easy to count, but if what really matters to you at the end of the day is the number of sales, you will have to ensure that you have some kind of conversion tracking mechanism.
(This one is easy if you’re using AdWords, but if you’re not, then set aside some cash for a web developer you’re going to have to hire in order to get this done.)
If you want to place a phone number on your banner then feel free to do so, but try to get a unique number exclusively for the purposes of that campaign so you can easily recognize whether the person is calling because they saw the banner.
If you are going to be using banners for branding, don’t forget to ask your new customers how did they find out about your business.
No matter what will your analysis system look like, its most important feature is that it provides you with approximate data. Without that you won’t be able to decide whether it’s a good idea to continue using banners or it’s better to search for different types of promotion.
…You can’t improve what you don’t keep an eye on.
Not so easy toys to use these banners are… but they do have some advantages.
Advantages of banners
- When it comes to the number of clicks, I have to say that from my experience banners have much better Click Through Rate (the number of clicks to the number of impressions ratio) than text ads. In other words: there’s much bigger probability that someone will click your banner than your text ad.
- When using banners you can show whatever message you like and use whatever form you prefer to show it in… your creativity is not limited by anything. (Just to remind you – you can be creative while writing text ads for AdWords as well, but up to 95 characters at a time…)
- Banners do a much better job at branding than text ads.
So… here’s a question for you. What are the main disadvantages of banners?
(Apart from the fact that they usually take much more time to create than shooting a text ad does.)
Here’s what really matters
If you were to remember just one sentence from this entire post, it would be this one:
Use banners just like you’re using any other marketing asset there is available on the internet, and don’t give up on them just because someone said that they no longer work these days.
Banners are still in good shape and there’s nothing in sight that could kill them anytime soon…
Here’s a list of articles you may also enjoy:
- Banner Ads: Excellent Examples for Inspiration – Advertising is everywhere, especially on the Web. Most websites I visit have some sort of web banner advertisements on them…
- Solving for Banner Blindness. Solve Media. | Both Sides of the Table – I think we’ve all come to accept that banner blindness is a real phenomenon. Sometimes you see solutions and immediately know they just make sense. Solve.
- Top 10 Tutorials On Making Banners In Photoshop | It’s Write Now! – paintbrush425. One of the programs I love and hate is Photoshop. I love it because of all of the amazing things we can do with it. I hate it because I’m always struggling to figure out how to do those things. I took a couple of classes …
- 125 banners, not so much clicking | Made by Many – I’ve read too many blog posts recently about pay walls and the future (or lack thereof) of journalism. With the debate raging and being nowhere close to resolution, I needed to remind myself of just how much online advertising sucks. …