Banner advertising is an essential and
powerful stream of marketing; find out how to create an effective campaign with
our up-to-date guide.
Banner ads are a powerful tool in advertising, offering perhaps
the greatest exposure across all advertising mediums. Understanding what banner
ads are, how to create effective banner ads, and why they’re effective is
essential for any brand looking to elevate its marketing efforts.
What is a banner ad?
A banner ad, also known as a display ad, is an online advertisement that’s displayed on a website. Banner ads can be in either JPG, GIF, PNG, or HTML5 format. You’ll see banner ads on a wide variety of websites – and just about any website publisher is able to host them. In some cases, the businesses being advertised may be relevant to the onsite content, in others, it may be targeted at specific users, or in some cases, they’re almost completely random.
Banner ads can be a significant source of income for
publishers and a significant source of exposure for advertisers.
How does banner advertising work?
ShareASale facilitates the process of publishing and
distributing ads online for both publishers and merchants
alike. Advertisers can use the Creatives
Inventory to manage and upload their banner marketing material, creating a
database for publishers to find relevant content for their
site. Some affiliates on the ShareASale network are also remarketers,
so merchants can connect with these affiliates to serve their content
to users who have engaged online with the business
Banner ads are placed in high-visibility areas of high-traffic
websites. A banner ad is also a link; a user can click a banner ad and go to
your homepage, a product page, landing page – or whatever you see fit for your
Through the Creative Inventory platform, publishers and affiliates are able
to populate spaces on their websites to host ads. Publishers are
provided with an HTML script that can be added to their website, and
ads can then be added and automatically updated without the
publisher needing to do anything. These are specific per retailer and can
be chosen by size and format.
Publishers can also search by content type,
topic, advertiser and more, to connect with the best banner ads for their
brand. They will then be paid a commission based on the
number of conversions the ad generates.
There are a few core pricing models for banner
advertising: cost per mille (CPM) is the price per 1,000 impressions,
cost per click (CPC) is the price per ad click, and cost per action (CPA) bases
the price on specific conversions, like purchases or registrations. While
it is possible to be paid on other metrics, CPA is typically used for affiliate
networks like ShareASale.
As a merchant, the cost of getting a banner ad published can
vary depending on the size, the market, the websites you’re looking to be
featured on, and more.
ShareASale’s commission flexibility options makes
negotiating and implementing payment models between advertisers and
What makes banner advertising effective?
Banner ads are effective because, when done well, they’re simply
hard to ignore. Oftentimes, a good banner ad will be the first thing your eyes
are drawn to when you open a webpage. They’re similar to billboards, only
Banner advertising is most effective when trying to raise brand
awareness. While they could be used to market to existing customers,
particularly with remarketing distribution, banner ads typically perform best
when the aim is to simply get new eyes on the business.
You might also use banner advertising to create awareness around
a special offer or sale. For instance, you could offer an exclusive discount
for a product or a free trial for a service to those who click through. This
works great with remarketing – the user has already shown some interest, so now
you can close the deal by advertising a special offer directly to
Visual content tends to perform well, and banner advertising
works because our gaze is naturally drawn to imagery on a page of mostly text.
Having said that, as banner ads have become more and more prevalent, many of us
have become so accustomed to them that they become easier to ignore. This is
known as “banner blindness.”
It’s not too dissimilar from traditional advertising. When
you’re bombarded with ads everywhere you turn, they can simply blend into the
background. The same goes for TV advertising. We’ve gotten to the point where
we’re conditioned to tune out once the commercials begin, and only the most
compelling content will reel us back in. In order to make sure you really stand
out, you’ve got to make sure you have a truly captivating visual.
Banner advertising best practices
The ultimate goal is to persuade users to click on
your ad, generating traffic to your website. In order to do so, you have
to ensure your ad is eye-catching, unique, and enticing.
Choosing the right size
You may assume that the bigger the banner ad, the better its
chances of generating impressions, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A
banner ad that’s so big it becomes obtrusive might garner a negative reception
and feel spammy, and larger banner ads are less likely to be placed on more
well-known, trusted websites.
Below are the standard sizes for banner ads:
- Banner (468×60)
- Leaderboard (728×90)
- Medium Rectangle (300×250)
- Wide Skyscraper (160×600)
- Skyscraper (120×600)
- Small Square (200×200)
- Square (250×250)
- Half Page (300×600)
- Smartphone Wide Banner (320×50)
- Smartphone Static Banner (300×50)
- Medium Rectangle (300×250)
- Smartphone Large Banner (320×100)
- Feature Phone Small Banner
- Feature Phone Medium Banner
- Feature Phone Large Banner
While banner ads can come in a variety
of sizes, you’ll likely have the most luck focusing on Medium Rectangle,
Large Rectangle, Leaderboard, Half Page, and Mobile Leaderboard banner ads.
These are most common, and most likely to be successful.
If you’re new to banner advertising, it’s best to start with a
medium rectangle and test the waters before venturing towards larger ads. Large
rectangles give you more space to work with, while still being compact enough
to be placed within the body text of the webpage. Leaderboard banner ads get
great exposure, being placed along the top of a page. Half-page ads are among
the largest, without being overly obtrusive, offering plenty of space to drive
forward your message. Mobile is of course hugely important, and Mobile
Leaderboards gain the most impressions.
Designing your banner ad
Including a clear call to action (CTA) in your display ads is a
must. Whether it’s something like “Find Out More,” “Shop
Sale,” “Save Now,” “Get Exclusive Offer” – whatever
you go for, a CTA can help guide a user towards conversion.
Choose your link wisely. If you’re looking to raise brand
awareness, you might link to your homepage or a blog. If you’re looking for
sales, link directly to the product page. If it’s lead generation, link to a
landing page where users can get a free trial or exclusive offer.
Use the AIDA marketing model to guide your design approach. AIDA
stands for attention, interest, desire, and action; aim for your display ad to
achieve each of these points. Grab attention through your choice of
color, typeface, aesthetic, format, and structure. Gain interest with a bold
statement that expresses the ultimate message of your product or campaign.
Encourage desire through sub-copy and imagery that sells the KPIs of
the product, using a style and tone of voice that speaks directly to your
audience’s needs. Then, inspire action with a CTA.
you’re a publisher, you don’t want to irritate your audience with huge ads that
distract too much from your content. While you may earn more from having more,
larger banner ads, you need to be careful not to damage your reputation by
going overboard. Always keep user experience in mind and make sure your banner
ad placement benefits all parties – you, the advertiser, and the