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Creating Successful Web Banner Ads

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 by Todd Nocera

Web banner ads can be a very effective way for your company to market products and services online. They help build brand awareness, increase visibility, and drive traffic to your site. But getting customers to notice—and actually click on—your banner ad is easier said than done. Here are some best practices to help maximize your click-through rate (CTR).

Size matters

Typically, advertisers will specify standard sizes to which your banner ads must conform. Popular banner ad sizes (specified in pixels, width by height) include:

  • Medium Rectangle: 300×250
  • Square Popup: 250×250
  • Leaderboard Banner: 728×90
  • Full Banner: 428×60
  • Wide Skyscraper: 160×600

Not surprisingly, larger banners tend to perform better—and cost more—than smaller ones. Wider ads are more readable than taller ones, so they are often a better choice.

Look at me!

Your banner ad needs to compete for short attention spans on already crowded web pages. Large blocks of vibrant color can really help your ad pop. If your brand’s color palette does not already contain a suitable accent color, consider adopting a new campaign-specific color.

Animation, when used tastefully, can also bring focus to your banner, as the eye is naturally drawn to movement. Just be sure to avoid the use of Flash—or provide a suitable fallback format, like animated GIF—as Flash is not supported on many mobile devices. Comscore estimates that 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users!

Clear intentions

Be sure your ad has an obvious call to action (CTA). After all, you want people to click on your banner, right? Even though the entire banner ad is actually clickable, users are accustomed to clicking on buttons, badges, and other interactive elements. So, be sure to include some kind of click-friendly target on your banner.

Be realistic

It’s important to note that the average CTR for display ads in the United States is 0.1 percent; that’s only one click for every 1,000 impressions! One of the first banner sizes—full banner, or 428×60—remains popular today despite its CTR of only 0.04 percent. Do your research: determine which sizes your advertiser supports then choose the sizes likely to perform best.

As with any advertising spend, it all comes down to return on investment. Getting people to click on your ad is great, but if they don’t follow through with whatever action you desire—completing a purchase, filling out a form, downloading a song—then there is no return. It’s critical to have an accurate means of comparing revenue to ad spend. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea if your ads are even paying for themselves.

is a member of the Content Bureau design team.

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