Many people think that banner advertising on the Internet is all but dead. They cite things like "banner blindness" and lack of conversions.
I’ll say this: Poor and ineffective banner advertising is dead. And guess what. It was never alive to begin with. Banner advertising itself is alive and well. Why else do you think you still see it everywhere?
Yes, "banner blindness" exists, but your job as an advertiser is to cure it. This means coming up with an ad that people can’t help but acknowledge.
It only makes sense that before you get a potential customer to click on an ad, you have to command their attention. An easy approach to this is to display an attractive eye-catching ad (ok, perhaps this is easier said than done). Common approaches to this technique are to use animation and "flashy" interactive ads.
Sometimes Simple is Better
Sometimes however, simple ads can be more effective. I had a conversation with Susan Coppersmith, the director of ad sales at our own iEntry, and she brought up the point that sometimes simple can command just as much attention as a flashy ad. For this to work though, I believe that the ad has to inspire curiosity – the need to find out more.
Garbage Clicks Don’t Count
When displaying your banner ads, remember you’re in it to win it. In other words, if you’re not going to win the clicker’s business, what is the point? This is where targeting comes into play. You may put up the most beautiful and exciting ad ever created, but if it’s not displayed in the right place it is simply going to be ineffective.
This is also true for irrelevant ads. By this, I mean if the ad has little or nothing to do with the actual landing page, you are most likely not going to get a conversion. An example that comes to mind is the type of ad you see all the time that encourages clicks by featuring some kind of a mini game. Shoot the duck, or something like that. It may inspire people to click just because they want to "shoot the duck", but when that is their only intention, what is it really going to get you? They’re not going to buy anything from you. When they get to your landing page, they’re going to say to themselves, "Why did I just do that?" and turn around and go back to the page they were on. Those are "garbage clicks".
That’s not to say however, that if such an ad is placed on a well targeted site, they may "shoot the duck" and land on something they are in fact interested in. So if you can entice them into clicking an ad and actually deliver a well-targeted product, then more power to you.
It’s Not Just About the Clicks
Of course, clicks and conversions aren’t the only important factors in banner advertising. The branding that banner ads can provide can be much more valuable than an immediate conversion. And if you advertise in the right place, it can build your reputation in the subconcious of potential customers. "Advertising in a reputable network can be of great advantage to a small company. This leads to building credibility which will lead to sales in the long run," says Coppersmith. "You’re often perceived to be as good as the company you keep."
Even if they ignore your ad as a result of "banner blindness", that doesn’t mean that your company isn’t leaving an impression in the back of their mind. Perhaps they don’t have a need for you right then anyway. But should the need for what you provide arise in the future, they just might recall seeing your logo somewhere and associate you with that very need. Isn’t that priceless?
In the End…
So in the end, whether you take the flashy route or the simple one with your ads, remember, it’s all about targeting the right people as well as burning your brand into their minds. As far as instant gratification, if the clicker gets to your landing page and doesn’t find the product interesting, it doesn’t matter how good your ad looks. But keep in mind that while immediate conversions are great, that isn’t all there is to it.
Which type of ad do you prefer to avoid banner blindness – flashy ones or simple ones?