The Banner Ad Still Has Some Growing Up To Do
I'm the father of a 13-year-old boy. For those of you who can relate, the voice, the body, the attitude … it's all changing and, quite frankly, it's scaring the hell out of me!
Less than two years before my son was born, the first banner ad appeared on Hotwired.com. Like a teenager, the banner still has a lot to learn. So as a responsible parent, um … I mean as a big fan (still!) of the banner ad, here's some advice to help it through advertising's version of puberty.
• Your appearance matters, so stand out. I'm not talking about growing bigger and bigger, just make sure there's something that gets you noticed. Translation: Every banner ad should have a clear and up-front call-to-action. Don't waste time with unnecessary text or animation.
• The conversation you have after someone pays attention to you should be relevant and make perfect sense. Translation: Landing pages should relate directly to the offer in the ad. For instance, don't allow banner ads to click through to Web site home pages.
• Throw away the clothes that don't fit. Translation: Get rid of ad units that under-perform, and never, ever use a 468 x 60 unit again.
• Don't let people pick on you. Translation: There are plenty of assertions that banner advertising is dead because of click-through rates of point-something percent or just the mere commoditization of online "display" advertising. I don't buy it. Highly-targeted offers, exclusive opportunities and out-of-the-box ideas have brought some of our advertisers click-through rates of 10 percent or higher.
• If someone asks for a hand-out, walk away. Translation: When an advertiser expects a banner on a Web site to cost pennies per impression, they don't believe in the qualified audience and the potential customers you can deliver to them.
• Learn how to drive a car with automatic transmission before you conquer a stick shift. Translation: Understand the basics of technology and the way banner ads render on different Web browsers and e-mail clients. This could make or break a campaign.
• Take some blame. Translation: Publishers always seem to take responsibility for a banner ad that doesn't perform up to a client's expectations. Remember, there are three successful parts to any marketing effort: List, Offer and Creative. The publisher is only responsible for one of them.
I'm sure there are other ways that publishers can help the banner ad grow and become a vital part of the world of advertising, but at least for now when you see a banner ad wish it a happy 15th birthday perhaps with a click or two!