We hear it all time: "Banners don't work anymore!" But did 'banners' ever really work in first place?
The latest published figures seem to suggest that average click-thru-rate (CTR) for a banner ad on Internet is between 0.15% and 0.3%. That is 1.5 to 3 per thousand.
Why is that such a surprise? Can you remember last time you clicked on a banner ad? I certainly can't.
Yet businesses are still putting banners up. Are they just kidding themselves?
In same way that big businesses will buy endless TV spots or radio ads to get their name better known, so too are banner ads used as a branding medium. These campaigns, where response is only a secondary aim, bring average CTRs down considerably.
In offline advertising world, Direct Response advertising is thriving. Ads that solicit a measurable action - call this number, fill this coupon, visit this web site - are growing as a percentage of total. The reason is simple. Every measurable response lets advertiser learn more about mix of media on his schedule. Newspaper A pulls more calls than newspaper B - then lets drop 'A' from plan and try out 'C'.
This constant learning and refining should be practiced online as well, but how many do it? The overall CTR is further damaged by too many banners being bought on wrong sites, and staying there too long.
An advantage that offline media planners have is sheer volume of research into audiences of every advertising medium you can think of. So before a single dollar is spent, they know that their ads will be seen by most appropriate people.
Not so online. Yet. In a large number of cases, banner ads are bought and sold in bulk. For every perfect site you buy, several others may be included in 'the package'. This arbitrary approach will decline if sites are forced to audit both size and composition of their audiences before advertisers will buy from them.
Making a successful banner campaign depends on four factors:
1. Ensuring that audience of site you advertise on is as closely matched as possible to your own. Not just in terms of age and socio-demographics, but also in attitude. Wastage is useless, and expensive.
2. Advertising on popular sites that people are likely to have bookmarked. One of reasons many people resist clicking on banners is because they know they will be taken away from site they are viewing to someplace they may not want to be. Highly bookmarked sites are easy to find again.
3. Getting right price. Until recently, most sites selling banners insisted on a cost-per-thousand impressions policy. The advertiser pays every time a viewer has an opportunity to click banner whether or not that opportunity is taken. This is becoming outdated, thankfully, as a more appropriate payment-by- results model is growing in popularity.