Banner ads can work magic when it comes to selling products online, but like every form of marketing, they have to be done right. First, lets look at one of the most well known issues with buying banner ads.
The Problem with Banner Ads
Once you understand what the problems are with banner ads, you can more creatively make ones that will work.
The inherent problem with banner ads is that in order for someone to click on an ad, you have to disrupt what the visitor was doing in the first place. Right off the bat, you’re creating friction with the person you’re trying to target. If you think about it, web surfers are most likely doing one of three things:
- Engaging in social networking
- Researching something
- Trying to enjoy a video
Most ads don’t help web surfers with any of those three things listed above. That’s why the new age of internet marketers avoid disruptive marketing and focus on “inbound” marketing instead.
The second problem with banner ads is that they slow down website and computer performance, which make them another drag for the web surfer. That’s why so many people have now installed ad blocking software.
3 Easy Tips For Successful Banner Ads
The key to making banner ads that work is to understand the problems we mentioned above and to really think about how you can get attention or help the web surfer out with your ads. Here are a few ideas on how to do just that:
- Only put your banner ads on relevant websites – If you plaster your ads everywhere possible on the Internet, you’re going to be paying a high price for poor ad performance. Therefore, only choose websites where your target audience hangs out. The more niche the website, the better.
Be creative while addressing the web visitor’s problems – It sounds obvious, but plenty of retailers put the bare minimum of creativity into their ad artwork. What’s going to get someone’s attention? What will your target audience care about? This ad from Volkswagen is both fun and creative:
- Test – The first banner ad you ever put up should be the only case where you see if it sticks. From there you need to iterate on your message, destination pages and artwork. You need to measure and keep track of what ads have the best effect with your web analytics.
It’s not only a video game, it helps drive home their message that the Golf can make it through an unexpected route.
Banner Ad Placement
Now that you understand that creative ads often perform better than boring ads, the next ingredient to banner ad success is determining what websites to place your ads on, and where on those sites your ad should be located.
Before you ever make an ad, the first thing you should do is create a list of 10 to 20 websites and blogs where you would love to see your ad displayed. You’ll probably target websites where your “ideal” customer hangs out.
Some of these sites may let you advertise with them directly. Look for links near the bottom of these sites that say “advertising”. Contact the website owner and ask them what their rates are – even if they are already posted. The idea is that you want to start a slow and natural conversation with them. These people are most likely key influencers in your niche, and it’s much more important to develop a great business relationship with them – then just getting a great deal.
The F Shaped Pattern
Most web surfers scan webpages in an “F” shaped pattern. They read from left to right usually scanning the very top of the webpage first, return to the left column and scan the middle – again from left to right. They finally return back to the left column and scroll down from there.
So naturally, based off this behavioral pattern, the best place for your banner ad is probably in the top left corner or simply the top of any website. This is a good rule of thumb, but the truth is that every website will have its own ideal location based on the layout, colors and other calls to action on the site. Find out what location performs the best by asking the website operators.
You should give some thought as to where you send your banner ad traffic. Depending on what your banner ad message is you can send them to:
- Your home page – We rarely recommend sending traffic to your home page. If your advertisements are more about your brand in general, then sending traffic to your home page is acceptable. But don’t expect it to convert into sales!
- A category page – If your advertisement has to do with one of your categories of products then send the traffic to your category page. You might want to pre-sort your products on your category pages to either show the lowest priced items first or the most popular items first.
- A product page – If you’re advertising a specific product, then definitely send them directly to the product page. 99% of the time this will result in higher conversions.
- A promotional page – In some cases you may be giving something away or having people enter a contest. In these cases, don’t make them do work to find the promotion, just send them to it directly.
How to Buy Banner Ads
There are two primary ways to buy banner ads. You can deal directly with the website, or work with an ad network. Here's a rundown on each option:
One-off Banner Ads
Depending on your industry, you may know of some niche websites that are very popular and have an advertising program. Reach out to the operators of those sites and find out what their advertising rates are. In some cases, these sites can be the best bang for the buck when it comes to banner ads.
Another thing to think about is how you can become a resident advertiser on these sites. The longer you advertise on these sites, the deeper the relationship you can build with their loyal visitors. This is when you need to think about how your ads change with time and what themes you want to run with. If you can freshen up your ads every month, and make their visitors smile, then you’re going to strengthen your brand with those visitors.
For more of a shotgun spread approach, you can join an ad network. Ad networks are middlemen between you and the websites your ads reside on. The benefit is that you’ll have access to more websites with less work. The downside is that you might not get the best rates, and you don’t get to build a close relationship with the website operators.
Aside from Google and Bing another popular website advertising network is buysellads.com.
We recommend exhausting the first approach of building close relationships with publishers directly. If you still need more advertising spread, begin by contacting ad networks and find out which network is the most suitable for your needs.