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Banner Mania

by Kevin Bramlett


Advertising on the Web is different in many ways from the advertising via 'offline' channels. To begin with Web Surfers are very much in control of the information which they view. They actively select the channels they receive, following their own threads, in a way which is very much unlike the passive receiving of advertising messages in the offline world via print media, billboards, radio, and television.

To take advantage of the traffic that occurs on websites, a sort of billboard advertising model has developed, in the form of banner ads. Typically in sizes between 400X40 pixels to 468X68 pixels, these ads appear in virtually all high-traffic sites on the Net (selling this ad space is one of the most effective ways that websites can generate revenues). There is a lot to learn about this advertising model, but taking the time can pay off in substantial increases in your traffic, with very little cost.

Banner ads can be displayed on the web by joining exchanges, which show your ad in exchange for displaying member ads on your website. Alternatively, you can purchase impressions in a variety of pricing models, and in a variety of Internet venues.

Banner Terms

Ad views (also impressions or exposures); this refers to how many times your banner ad is loaded and seen by someone surfing the site where the banner is appearing. Note that due to caching of images, it is possible that your true ad views will be slightly higher than as measured by server logs.

Click-through rate; this measures the ratio of surfers who actually click on the banner to follow the hyperlink to your site compared to the total number of surfers viewing the banner. Statistics in this area are subject to argument and interpretation (for the obvious reason that those buying and selling the advertising are looking to slant things in their favor). Generally, if your banner is viewed 1000 times, and you get 33 visitors or click throughs from these ad views, then your click-through rate is 1000/33 = 30:1 ratio. In other words, for every thirty viewers, you are getting approximately one visitor. In the world of banner advertising, this is considered decent. 20:1 or higher is fantastic. Many banners languish at 300:1 odds.

CPM; cost per thousand (impressions). This is a pricing model where you pay a set fee for a set number of ad views for your banner. So if the price is $15/1000 impressions, and you want to purchase 100,000 impressions, you pay $1500. Note that if you click-through ratio is 30:1, you will be paying $1500 for approximately 3,333 visitors to your website, or roughly .45 cents per visitor. If you have a high closing ratio of sales to visitors, then clearly it pays to banner advertise!

Narrowcast; also targeted advertising. This refers to selecting either a filtered group to advertise to (for instance, buying ad space in the NRA website to advertise specifically to gun owners), or purchasing key words in search engines and directories (for example, buying the word 'pistol', so that searches containing that word will come up with your banner ad for a revolutionary new trigger lock).

ROS; run of site. This refers to banner advertising that can appear on any ad space within a website, for instance, at the top of any web search conducted at HotBot. This is the opposite of narrowcasting, or targeted advertising.

Better Banners Mean More Business

Here are some essential guidelines for creating effective banner ads:

1. Ask for Action. Your banner should say 'Click Here Now!' or invite the viewer to visit for more information. Arrows, targets, anything that implies action or movement to the hyperlinked site will improve response.

2. Use complex graphics sparingly, but effectively. Graphics can convey a great deal of information in a short time, but can also dramatically increase your file size. The fact is that smaller gifs get downloaded quicker and more frequently, and don't get halted in midstream by impatient surfers. Optimize your banners using some of the tools noted below, such as Gif Wizard.

3. In most cases, research indicates that unbranded ads generate more clicks. Hmmm. Create mystery, ask a question, imply missing information available with a click. All these generate inquiry in your viewers.

4. Animated banners are more effective than static banners, but as with graphics, use good judgement. Ads that are too busy increase file size, and can confuse the viewer. Market a single concept, even if it is an umbrella for many other products and services. For instance, in our banner ads, we market resources for Internet Business People using the phrase "Master The Internet". Now this includes our training products, our newsletter, free tools and resources on our website, and many other subjects. But the single concept we market is to Master The Internet.

5. Change your banners frequently. Web surfers are very unlikely to follow a banner link after seeing it the third or fourth time. Your click through rate will fall from an initial high to almost nothing as it is viewed between 100,000 and 200,000 times.

6. Strongly consider using targeted advertising. For obvious reasons, targeted ads pull much better. In spite of higher costs for the targeted ads, the much higher click-though rates result in a typically lower cost per visitor.

7. Consider adding a blue border around your banner - strongly suggesting the banner is a clickable link (as of course it is).

8. Use the word FREE, and create urgency by suggesting time limits or quantity limits.

9. Larger is better. Some banner exchanges offer 468X68 pixel banners, while others limit the size to 400X40 or similar. All other things being equal, the larger sized banner will generate a higher click through ratio. But remember to try and keep file size small ;)

10. Research and copy what's working. Visit http://www.whitepalm.com/fourcorners/clickthroughcomp.shtml for an excellent showcase of banners with click-through rates. See what is working RIGHT NOW on the web.

Banner Resources

For an excellent article on the necessary tools for creating, editing, saving, and manipulating graphic files for the web, read the PC Magazine article posted at http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/features/webgraph/_open.htm

For online gif reducing at an affordable price, try the Gif Wizard at http://www.raspberryhill.com/gifwizard.html (although I come from the 'do it yourself' school, so I prefer to buy software such as Ulead's Web Razor package at http://www.ulead.com/ and do it myself.)

Don't want to do it yourself? Try the Banner Generator at http://www.coder.com/creations/banner/ (these wonderful Netizens have produced over 1.2 million free banners in less than two years for people on the Web. Please visit them and show them you care!)

Banner Exchanges

Please visit our website and check out the outstanding collection of links to Banner Exchanges that we are using to expand our presence across the Internet. The Banner Exchanges on this page have all been checked out and provide genuine services to promote your website. We also provide links to comprehensive listings of banner exchanges and resources. http://www.WorldWideGuide.com/banners-r-us.htm

Information and Learning Sites

Much of the information used to prepare this article was researched from several websites on the Internet that provide outstanding resources for banner advertising. Be sure and spend some time at these sites to learn more about this technique, and bookmark these resources for future reference.

http://www.wprc.com/wpl/dictionary/banner_terms.html (Note from 4hb - this site is no longer active)



Article by Kevin Bramlett (Kevin@WorldWideGuide.com) and WorldWide Guide, providers of unique and powerful Internet Instructional Video Courses, and publishers of ECOM: The Newsletter of Electronic Commerce (subscribe@WorldWideGuide.com). Find out how you can get a FREE Internet Business Video by visiting http://www.WorldWideGuide.com, and FREE Special Reports by autoresponder(GuideList@WorldWideGuide.com).

Tags: E-commerce and Internet



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