Banner advertising emerged as an effective way of Internet marketing in the 1990s. Initially, when banner advertising was mentioned, it referred to the large ads that were posted on billboards all over the city. In today's context, banner advertising refers to the posting of an ad on a variety of websites that are visited by a huge number of Internet surfers. The Internet is the perfect market base to attract global customers. Thus, while the concept remains the same, banner advertising in today's context, is one of the unique web advertising techniques that is used by different companies to make their product known worldwide. But how effective is this? Does it really generate a lot of sales? How can it be improved?
What are Banner Ads?
Banner ads, are in many ways, similar to the traditional printed advertisements in magazines. However, they do differ in several ways from the traditional mode of advertising. When a banner advertisement is placed on any particular website, a click on the ad directly transports you to the website of the product that is being advertised. This means, you are saved the time of going to a store to purchase the product that has been advertised. Moreover, it is definitely more attractive than a regular printed ad, because a lot of graphics and animation can be added to make it eye-catching and visually appealing. The location of the ad, however, is limited to one single place. There are, of course, instances where the graphics and animation are simply overdone.
When a customer clicks on a banner ad, he is directed to the website of the product that has been advertised. These ads are based on the concept of pay per click advertising. This gives the publishing website income every time the ad is clicked, as a customer has been directed to the advertiser's website. Whether or not this click gets converted into a sale is immaterial. The publishing website will be given a payment on the basis of the prevalent rates. However, its effectiveness is determined only when the click gets converted into a sale.
If the surfer does not click on the advertisement, advertisers try to ensure that at least the image of the promotional product has been registered with the user, and he/she will sometime in the future visit the website directly. Then, the effectiveness is measured by the number of times the ad has been clicked, the number of times a visitor has been directed to the advertiser's website, and the ratio of the clicks to the page views. This gives an exact idea of whether a visitor has been directed by a banner ad, or by some other medium. This rate ranges around only .1%, and is rarely higher. Lastly, whether or not a visit to the website through the banner ad was converted to a sale is calculated. This gives an actual measure of the effectiveness of this type of promotion.
How Effective is It?
The reality about banner advertising is that, because there are so many of them out there on the world wide web, they are usually ignored by most customers. This is because, they are usually very annoying, especially those that enlarge when you visit a page, and when you have to manually close them. Several times, they are linked to pages that are absolutely unrelated to the product that is being advertised. This causes further frustration. It is thus concluded, that a banner ad, though considered as one of the best Internet advertising techniques, does not generate much revenue in the long run. However, there are still some ways in which the effectiveness can be improved and used to generate overall sales.
- Target the Right Audience: Place your banner on relevant websites. For instance, if you are selling a weight loss product, place it on a website related to health and fitness. People are more likely to take your advertisement seriously, when they see it at the right place at the right time.
- Keep it Simple: Do not make your banner too fancy. You must understand that loud graphics, flashing images, and animation is extremely frustrating, and no one really has the patience to see and understand what your product is all about. The bottom line is to convey your message in as few words as possible, keep it relevant to the product that is being advertised, and be attractive, yet simple. Subtle messages will not be understood here either. Also, remember to include your company name and logo. Even if a customer does not click on the ad immediately, the logo will leave an impression, and he will definitely come back to you some time in the future.
- Create Urgency: When you include text like 'limited period offer', or 'offer valid until stocks last', you are more likely to generate sales. This gives the customer the idea that the product is indeed limited, and that he should make the most of the time during which it is available.
- Size Matters: Try to use a strategically located larger banner, so that it is visible to customers. It will definitely be more effective than a smaller banner in some corner of a web page. Though this usually depends on the website that publishes your ad, if it is visually appealing, it is bound to win an important spot on the page.
- Just Clicks are not Enough: The effectiveness cannot only be measured by the number of clicks on the ad. The mere presence of an ad at all times, gets it registered in the mind of customers, which may then transform into a sale at some particular time in the future. It is simply a strategy you will have to attempt, so that it eventually converts into a sale.
You may see a lot of figures that tell you that banner ads are actually not very effective, and the conversion rate is very low. However, understand that this medium is only as effective as you make it. Just like any other form of advertising, banner advertising is based on certain strategies, which when employed in the right manner, can definitely improve its overall effectiveness.