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 Banner Advertising: 9 Ways to Make it Work

BannersDarcy McDonald writes:

Banner Advertising: 9 Ways to Make it Work

There are a number of points to focus on to make sure your banner campaigns are effective.

1. Make the banners small and fast loading. Statistics show higher click-throughs on smaller, faster banners, rather than larger ones with fancy "rich media." It's critical to grab the eye as the page loads.

2. Using "interface controls" like radio buttons and click boxes give a much higher click-through rate. They don't have to actually work; they just have to be images of these standard window controls. The idea is not to trick the user, it's just to put them into the proper mindset that this is something to click on.

3. Tell them to "click here." Lots of different "calls to action" have been tested, but nothing is as effective as a dead-simple "click here." And it becomes especially effective when it's placed as an image on a standard windows button at the right-hand side of the banner. People read left to right, so any call to action must be the last thing they read.

4. Sex doesn't sell on a Web banner. A woman in a bikini may grab their attention, but it sets expectations on the sort of site they're clicking through to. If you're running an adult site, fine, but if not, you're going to get some very untargeted traffic.

5. If you must use animation, make sure it incorporates horizontal movement. Evolution has engineered the human animal to be very alert to horizontal motion as a survival trait. This is the best possible way to use animation to grab the eye.

6. Use banner text wisely: use the largest possible font, capitalize the first letter of every word, and use a dead-simple readable font like Courier or Times New Roman.

7. Don't go crazy on tight demographic targeting. The pricing gets steeper as you target more tightly, so there are no real benefits dollar-wise; the ad networks figured this out long ago. So if the money is the same, isn't it better to get it out to the widest possible audience? It's worth something to get your name and logo out to the widest possible audience.

8. One word: TESTING! So many first-time advertisers run out, get a banner designed, and spend thousands on a campaign. Those folks are somewhat surprised by results, to say the least. Instead, try getting a number of different banners designed, and try them out in very small runs, possibly on different ad networks. This strategy lets you learn where your customers are and what makes them respond best. Most ad networks will let you do limited trial runs to determine this. If they don't, find someone who will.

9. Track your results with a microscope! It's not enough to analyze how many click-throughs you get, you must know how many of those are actually buying. Make no mistake, your sales conversion rate on banner click-through customers will be very different than traffic from other sources. This is the only true measurement of the success of a banner campaign.

So for those new to the game, the message is learn some things, test, retest, and proceed slowly and carefully. Evaluate your results and go with what works best over time.

Article by Darcy MacDonald, of Babblebot. Darcy has worked as a Web designer and Internet Marketing consultant for the past 4 years. He operates a Web site focusing on advanced tools for search engine optimization and ranking.



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