Banner Advertising – Are Users Turning A Blind Eye?

Whether part of a multidimensional online campaign, stimulating and reinforcing brand awareness or additional in support of integrated offline promotion, banner ad have their uses, but are users blind to their messages?

Of course this notion considers targeted placement such as a music equipment supplier on a Glastonbury forum however, what about longtail areas including clothing?

Banner advertising can reach thousands and thousands of people, particularly so as users spend longer online, harnessing social networking platforms and email services, but of course in many instances such adverts might be unwanted by the user.

CTR’s or Click Through Rates (obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on a banner ad by the number of times the ad was delivered (impressions)) will of course depend upon how large the campaign is, and how many times the ad is served across multiple websites for example, however with reports from Doubleclick that the average banner CTR is 0.44% while Google Adwords reports a CTR across all keywords system of about 2% is the life of the banner slipping away?

Whilst it has been discussed that banner adverts can contribute to brand awareness campaigns, what of the marketing budgets for small businesses? Such businesses that cannot afford large campaigns of across Silicon Valley networks how are they to get higher CTR’s and the best level of exposure?

Well, certainly ensuring focus and accurate targeting is the key, however I would say a review of what exactly you want from the banner campaign in addition to an audit of the customer experience when having banners designed is of importance.

In seeking to counteract the traditionally low CTR of traditional static banners churned out from the ad networks and merchants we are seeing nothing short of an evolution. Gone are the days of poor quality flashing 468×60.gifs (or worse still a static image) and there now exists examples of flash animated banners which interact with the user, non more recognisable than those displayed by mobile phone operator Orange with their ‘Free Sim Card’ banner. Heavily featured on email provider websites, the Orange banner enabled the user to enter their personal data within the banner without leaving the original page they saw the ad from.

In addition, banners are also cropping up that are keyword rich so as to contribute to search engine rankings, such as that of the following mocked-up example.

Leapfrogg Internet Marketing
Ethical SEO
SEO Info Library
Our Services
Frogg Blogg

But so as not to get into a comprehensive review of the individual demographics and their preference on how and what they click the crux of this post is that banners, like traditional media, have their place, not with driving qualified visitors like PPC does, but instead with generating exposure and brand awareness.

The points to which I pause to cast reflection are:
1. How will banner design evolve to engage the user?

2. Are users, thanks to social networks, savvier to online advertising, rendering it increasingly more difficult to convert?

3. And, perhaps more importantly, regardless of the message or indeed the usability within the banner, do users even see them anymore?

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