Personally, I am not crazy about banner exchanges. I've tried them all, and without a single exception every one of them is completely lame as a traffic generator. In fact, only thing that I've found that's worse than banner exchanges for getting hits to your site is Free For All lists (especially mass FFA services).
All right, that being said, what is a banner exchange? These programs are a way for sites to be advertised at no cost on other sites. The concept is simple. Create a banner then submit it to banner exchange. You must also add some code to your page (or pages) which displays a randomly chosen banner from banner exchange program.
Each banner exchange program has a display ratio. A ratio of 1:1 means for each time you display one of banner exchange banners, some other site will display one of your banners. A ratio of 2:1 means for every two banners you display, one of yours will be shown. Obviously higher ratio, more often your banners will be displayed.
Some banner programs will give a higher conversion ratio if you include banners on front page, and an even higher ratio if banner is on top of your home page. The theory is this will give most exposure to banner ads.
Some banner exchange programs also include a referral program, which usually gives you a higher conversion ratio if you get people to sign up. This can be useful if you are good at selling, although if you can sell people on banner exchanges you might consider selling a product which actually returns you some money instead (in other words, don't waste your time and efforts on these silly programs).
Most banner exchanges work with standard banner size of 468x80 pixels. Many programs also handle other size banners as well, all way down to buttons of 88 x 31. A few exchanges also allow for text links, although they will usually require a 1x1 pixel web bug to be able to measure impressions.
When you submit your banner, virtually all services will not display it immediately on other sites. Instead, they will require that it be examined by a human being to ensure that it meets qualifications of service. These qualifications include:
Size - better programs limit size of banner. Generally, smaller better. Remember, this is size of banners that will be displayed on your site as well as others. Programs should not allow banners greater than 10k.
Animation - some programs do not allow animated banners.
Suitability - The banner program will examine your banner to ensure that it is aimed at proper audience. For example, if they do not allow pornographic banners, than yours will be examined to ensure it is not adult in nature.
In addition, any decent exchange program will always hold your banner for examination if you resubmit a new one. Before you get angry at this practice, remember that it protects your site from unsuitable banners as well.
As I said at beginning of this article, banner exchange programs of all flavors are an exceptionally poor way to generate traffic to your site. Because of this, be sure that you never, ever even consider paying anything for this service. Spend your money on something useful.
Remember that banner exchanges may not cost money, but they are not free by any means. Banners require:
- Additional load time on your pages. This can result in visitors leaving your site faster.
- Other people's web sites are advertised on your site, which can pull more traffic from your pages than you get from program (especially with a bad conversion ratio).
- The danger that banner exchange programs will sell or give your personal data (email address) to spammers or other evil doers.
- Since banner exchanges are such terrible traffic builders, you may be able to spend your time promoting your site in a more useful manner doing something else.
Some of things that you should look for in a banner exchange program include:
- High conversion ratio. 1:1 or 7:8 is good. Many programs are 3:4 (barely acceptable) and some are 2:1 (I wouldn't bother). Anything worse - go somewhere else.
- Ensure that all banners are hand checked by human beings on initial submit and resubmit. If their help pages do not state this explicitly, then ask. This protects your site from unsuitable banners.