The use of banner advertisements as a form of online display marketing dates back to the early 1990s, when HotWired created the phrase “banner ad” to refer to the online display advertising it was selling to various corporations. In 1994, AT&T and Coors worked with HotWired to be among the first companies to engage in online banner advertising. Since those early days of web banner ads, display and tracking capabilities have improved and a general list of best practices has been established. As it remains an important part of advertising online today, it is important to be aware of the do’s and don’ts associated with online banner advertising.
DO hire a professional graphic designer. Nothing is worse than a banner advertisement reeking of amateurism—it tells your target audience that you are cheap and unprofessional.
DON’T ignore the importance of color in your design (another reason to hire a graphic design pro). Bright colors attract more attention, but too much color can be overwhelming and distracting. Understanding how color combinations affect user interaction goes a long way toward the success of a banner advertisement.
DO create a unifying message and similar imagery on your clickthrough page. Taking users from a banner advertisement selling handbags to a landing page about running shoes will result in high bounce rates.
DON’T try to do too much with your banner ad. Create a simple, clear message using only necessary imagery and content. Too much clutter will only turn potential visitors away.
DO include a strong call to action. Users need to know what the goal of your banner advertisement is. Make it clear by including phrases like, “Click to Learn More,” “Sign Up Today,” or “Download Your Coupon Here.”
DON’T be afraid to experiment with rich media. Animated ads using Flash and other rich media have been shown to increase click through rates when compared to static banner ads. Test out both and see what type of media works best for your campaign.
DO thoroughly analyze your target audience. Determine what they do on the web and what websites they visit on a regular basis. Successful banner advertising campaigns are the ones that place ads in front of the most relevant users at the most opportune moments.
DON’T annoy your target audience with pop-ups or pop-unders. They are spammy, and most people browsing the web today despise this type of banner advertising.
DO continue to test and refine your banner advertisement. Just like any other area of paid search marketing, online banner advertisements should be continuously analyzed and tweaked for enhanced performance.