How Do Web Advertising Banners Work?


The following is a guest blog post written by Chad Faith, director of content for the digital marketing agency, SmartSites.

Have you heard about advertising banners, but don't know how well they'll work for your business? Are you looking for a new form of digital marketing, but don't know how to get started with ad banners? Well we'll get you caught up on the basics and how well advertising banners work.

This blog should give you enough information to understand what banner ads can do. You can then decide if it’s right for your business – whether you’re in marketing, graphic design, or if you're simply an entrepreneur looking to grow and expand.

The Basics

Before deciding where to place your ads, what colors to use, what your advertising strategy will be, how to make it resonate with your target audience, etc., you need to learn the concepts behind banner ads first.

Here are the basics regarding what banner ads are, how they function, and why they work.

What Are Banner Ads?

You can find several definitions online, but the most basic explanation is fairly straightforward. A banner ad (which can also be referred to as a web banner) is a form of advertising posted on a webpage, usually across the top of the page or along the sides. Here's an example of a banner ad we at SmartSites use:

As with most other kinds of advertising, the purpose of banners is to promote a brand or service. But banners persuade “visitors” to move to the advertiser’s website from the host site. To be most effective, banner ads should be more image-based than text-based.

Depending on the technology used, a banner ad can be animated or static. The ad usually consists of a photo or image, some text, a logo, and a link to the advertising company’s website.

But all banner ads have the same function: To entice a visitor to click on an image they see on a web page. Their browser then takes them to the advertiser’s website. The ads are simple, yet very important and their presence makes an especially big difference for internet-based brands and companies.

How Do Banner Ads Work?

Web-based banner ads work the same way as a physical sign or flag-banner outside a shop’s front door function. Physical signs and banners invite you to enter the store because they spark your interest for some reason. The sign might say there’s a sale on a specific product or the company is offering something new. Online banner ads are used in precisely the same way.

You usually have a single goal for an online banner ad: To generate traffic to your website and increase interest in your “deal”, whatever that may be.

However, it would be beneficial if you also used your banner ad to inform your potential customers of a new product, to increase brand awareness overall, as an attention grabber, etc. If you don’t know what you want the banner to do first, it won’t be as successful or effective.

Keeping that in mind, here are a few ways of encouraging people to visit your website. You’re giving the public the opportunity to find out more about your business by using web-based banner ads.

  • Increasing customer traffic

Banner ads encourage visitors to click on them and go to the advertiser’s website. With this method, the ad is paid for by the number of impressions, the amount of time spent on the page, CRTs (click-through rates), PPC (pay-per-click), etc.

There are a number of analytics used to measure a banner ad’s effectiveness when it comes to increasing your traffic and seeing if people click on the site, stay for a while, or leave. A great way for banner ads to be used to increase traffic is by setting up a strategy around certain time periods. Examples of this would include “Back to School”, holidays, etc.

  • Selling a product

Some banner ads are used to persuade visitors to buy products. For this type of banner ad to be effective, it should be placed on a related website (i.e., a baby product banner on an obstetrician’s homepage, or WebMD, etc.) and offer an answer to a problem the visitor may have.

Another example is Airbnb. This company’s success was made possible through banner ads that targeted a specific audience (travelers, 20-30-somethings, etc.) on websites where that audience was located. 

  • Grab your customer’s attention

Getting potential customer’s attention online nowadays can be very challenging, especially when you consider that it’s all about creativity.

Study your target market to understand if you need, for example, a classic font on a neat background or a cute, animated bouncy ad. Gather information on being creative and how to design everything so that your banner ad stands out from the crowd.

  • Announce discounts and sales

Businesses can generate and increase revenue by announcing discounts and sales. What better way to find new, potential customers than with banner ads online? 

Chances are, your company routinely offers discounts and products that are on sale, but how do you let people know? You alert them by designing banner ads that are creative, enticing, and persuasive.

Why Do Banner Ads Work?

Banner ads work because most people react more positively to readable content or a message that is also accompanied by something visually stimulating – a photo, cartoon, a logo, etc.

However, there’s also something called “banner blindness.” Because we are exposed to thousands of ads every day, consumers have developed an ability to ignore them and only focus on information, photos, or ads regarding their own interests. Don’t be discouraged – that doesn’t mean banner ads won’t work for you.  

In order to make your ads stand out from the crowd, be creative. Determine what makes your business different, what your customers want, new areas and sites where your ads should go, what times throughout the year they should be up, and when you want to have sales or announce new products. Integrate your ad banners with other advertising on television, newspapers, radio, etc.

Bottom Line

Banner ads are here to stay. They can be an effective and powerful tool to help your business grow and thrive. Learn how to design and use them to their full advantage. You’ll see very quickly what banner ads can do for you and your business!

Business Education
Marketing Advice
Written by Chad Faith

Chad Faith is the Director of Content at SmartSites. He leads a team of over 30 copywriters specializing in SEO, PPC, e-commerce & website copy.

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