Putting the Bang Back in Banners

Banner ads have long been a mainstay of technology marketers and, for the most part, the bane of online consumers. While dollars continue to shift from print to online media – to the benefit of banner ad revenues – the effectiveness of online ads continues to come into question.

As statistics Digiday recently collected indicate, the place banner ads hold in technology marketers’ media mix is a precarious one.

    1. Over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users last year. (ComScore)
    2. That’s 1 trillion more than 2009. (ComScore)
    3. The typical Internet user is served 1,707 banner ads per month. (Comscore)
    4. Click-through rates are .1 percent. (DoubleClick)
    5. The 468 x 60 banner has a .04 percent click rate. (DoubleClick)
    6. An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)
    7. The display advertising Lumascape has 318 logos. (Luma Partners)
    8. 8 percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)
    9. Up to 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)
    10. Mobile CPMs are 75 cents. (Kleiner Perkins)
    11. You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)
    12. 15 percent of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat, compared to 29 percent for TV ads. (eMarketer)
    13. 34 percent don’t trust banner ads at all or much, compared to 26 percent for magazine ads. (eMarketer)
    14. 25-34-year olds see 2,094 banner ads per month. (ComScore)
    15. 445 different advertisers delivered more than a billion banner ads in 2012. (ComScore)

So how can technology marketers make the most of their banner ad buys? Here are a few ways:

1. Know your audience.

It may sound basic, but keeping a sharp focus on exactly whom you’re targeting is an important way to minimize waste in your banner budget. The shotgun approach many employ just perpetuates the perception of banners being random and untrustworthy. Be where your audience is and deliver messaging that’s relevant and credible.

2. Support your content marketing strategy.

In the name of being relevant, tie your banner ads to your broader content marketing strategy. Give viewers a specific next step as a call to action, rather than the hollow and ubiquitous “learn more.” IBM does a great job of promoting webinars and white papers, while still maintaining overall brand consistency in their “Smarter Planet” campaigns. For B2B buyers in particular, banners can be a useful tool in promoting valuable content and guiding prospects through the chain of consideration.

3. Leverage rich media.

There are myriad ways offered by sites and media services to move beyond the typical banner experience. (R.I.P 468×60.) Integrated video, interactivity and unique page placements can help distinguish your creative and create an engaging, memorable experience. While these placements typically cost more, if you’re in the right focused community, you can experience greater return.

4. Optimize for mobile viewing.

Being ready for mobile is both a technical consideration (file size, formats and restrictions) and a messaging consideration. Mobile device users are often, well, mobile. Tailor your message to acknowledge that. Consumer electronics manufacturers can cater to customers who might be showrooming or doing important ZMOT decision making. Highlight competitive advantages or special offers that may tip the balance in your favor.

5. Employ retargeting.

Retargeting (or remarketing) offers a good way to increase the exposure and utility of your banners. After people visit your site (or PPC landing pages), you can automatically serve them up ads on participating sites in order to keep your brand top of mind.

Banner ads continue to hold an important place in every technology marketer’s toolkit. As with many marketing tactics, they require judicious application. Scrutinize your media plan to focus buys on the sites best suited to your customer profile. Test multiple sites and campaigns – keep the performers and cull the rest. And remain relevant. Offer valuable content and you may restore some of the sense of value people find in your banners.


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