Do banner ads actually work?
As one of the most popular ways to market and advertise your brand, product or service in today’s digital world, banner ads have frequently been put under scrutiny both from the audience’s and the business owner’s point of view.
From the audience’s perspective, banner ads disturb their user experience. They believe that banner ads have become a nuisance, getting in the way of their browsing.
As for business owners and marketers, some have also expressed their doubt over the success of banner ads simply because they are also part of someone else’s audience. This means that they share the same sentiments of all the other audiences out there – they may be encountering ineffective banner ads on a daily basis and only see it as something that could ruin their potential customers’ experience instead of enhancing it.
Amidst all the doubt and negative views about it, let me just state this controversial belief – banner ads DO work.
Yes, you read that right. Banner ads actually work and entice audiences to click on them to see what these ads have to offer. However, banner ads also have to be used the right way for them to work.
Here are a few tips that could help you turn those banner ads from being a nuisance into a magnet that draws the right people in.
Size it right.
The size actually means everything when it comes to banner ads. Make it too big and it becomes the distracting giant that people have always tried to avoid. Make it too small, and you waste a lot of time, money and energy creating something that people won’t even notice.
Google Adsense says that the most successful sizes are 336×280 (large rectangle), 300×250 (medium rectangle), 728×90 (leaderboard) and 160×600 (wide skyscraper). Size your ads according to these dimensions and you get a better chance of being noticed in a good way.
Place it right.
Although every page usually has specific areas where banner ads should go, there are still a few choice spots that makes all the difference as far as capturing the attention of the audience is concerned. Sure, the prime spots are always more expensive than all other areas in a certain page. But you know what? That’s part of the investment. You’re already spending on advertising as it is, why not make the most out of it?
Make sure your banner ad is found above the fold, and hopefully, close enough to the page’s main content. With your banner above the fold, audiences will automatically see it regardless if they continue reading the rest of the page or not.
Highlight your logo.
You can’t just leave a call to action without telling the audience where this action is leading to. Trust is always a big factor here, and people just won’t trust an ad that does not represent its owner well.
Make sure that your business logo is prominently displayed. This will also help brand recognition greatly, as people will still be able to see that mark regardless if they heed your call to action or not.
Always have a value proposition.
What do people get out of clicking your ad? This is your value proposition, something that will change the way your banner ad will work. People won’t just click on your ad without being promised anything – they need something in exchange of that click.
Are you offering 50% off on some of your products? Are you offering a free trial for one of your bestselling services? Use this to entice people to click on your ad and find out more. This vale proposition should of course take up the most amount of space on your ad. Make it stand out. It has to be the first thing people see when they land on the page.
Make the call to action stand out.
You have a value proposition, and they know who you are. What do people do now? They respond to your call to action.
Whether or not all the work you did in catching people’s attention is a success will ultimately rest on this one question – will people click on that button? Your call-to-action button should stand out, and should be simple to understand. Words like “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Register Now” or “Grab Offer” work pretty well for banner ads. Make sure you use contrasting colors as well, as this would make it extremely noticeable.
Keep it simple.
Just because we’re asking you to make your banner ad noticeable does not mean that you’ll fill it with so many elements, it can make any person’s eyes bleed. More often than not, the simpler the design is, the better.
Remember that you only have a limited amount of space on your banner ad, so make sure you use up the space wisely. Concentrate on sending your message across effectively. The simpler the design is, the better focus people will have on your main message and your call to action.
Have a clearly-defined frame.
Did you know that the human eye is automatically drawn to anything found inside a defined frame? Take a picture frame, for example. When people see a picture frame on a table, they immediately zero in on the picture inside that frame and forget about the table and the background.
The same concept is applied to banner ads. When you have a clear frame around each of your ads, your audience’s eyes will immediately focus on what can be seen within this frame. Extend your graphics right to the edges of this frame.
Mind your text.
No matter how attractive your graphics are, if people can’t read the text that comes with it, then all your effort would be useless.
Make sure your statements are concise. Avoid lengthy, complicated explanations. Go straight to the point. Choose fonts that are fun but not hard to read. Also ensure that you have a clear hierarchy – have the headline use a bigger font to emphasize its importance over the subheading and the copy. Avoid using cursive fonts as well as fonts that are too thin.
The moment anybody clicks on your banner ad, they will, ideally, land on one of your webpages. This webpage will carry your company’s branding, with the right colors, fonts, logos and other things that will make people recognize your brand in place. Now imagine the confusion on your audience’s faces the moment they click on your banner ad and land on a page that looks completely different from your ad. What happens next?
It’s not surprising that a lot of people feel confused when they see a banner ad that looks completely different from the page they will be landing on. Remember that you should be representing your brand on that banner ad, and when it is not consistent with everything else that your brand represents, then people might feel that you’re only trying to lead them on or trick them into doing something.
Be clear about your brand and the colors and symbols that it represents. Make sure that when you jump from your banner ad to your landing page, you will still be reminded of the same entity.
Choose your file format well.
In designing your banner ads, always think about your users. What file formats will they be able to see? Remember that although flash formats are a popular choice, not all gadgets support this format, so not all gadgets will be able to display your ad.
Choose formats that are supported by more gadgets. .GIF is always a great choice for animated ads. As for ads that are immobile, the defaults are usually .PNG or .JPG.
Mind the size of your files.
The heavier the file is, the slower it loads. This is one rule that a lot of ad designers forget. They often get stuck on the thinking that the bigger the file is, the better the quality as well. But this is not always true in the digital world. Once that heavy file has been posted for regular viewing, there will always be a bigger chance of the file not loading properly because of its size.
Stick to smaller file sizes. The smaller the file is, the faster it also loads. Of course, you should also make sure that your files aren’t too small that the quality is compromised. Find the right balance between quality and speed and you’re good to go.
Choose your images well.
A lot of people feel that for a banner ad to work, they need to place the most attractive images on it. While this is partly true, there are also a few exceptions to the rule. If the image, for example, is definitely attractive, but is not at all related to the message of the ad, would you still think that it would work? Yes, it may capture people’s attention, but it will not prompt them to follow through on your call to action.
Choosing the right images that relate to your message well is always a great way to entice people not only to look at your ads, but to click on them and see what else you have in store for them. You can take your own pictures, or buy great stock photos online.
Don’t be forced to use an image.
Here’s a disclaimer to the previous tip – you don’t always have to use images.
One reason why people end up using the wrong images is because they are trying to force the issue. Yes, well-chosen images can get people hooked. But it’s not the only thing that pulls them in. If your copy is powerful enough, you might not need images anymore – your text is more than enough to reel them in.
Have a sense of urgency.
When you tell or show people that what you have to say can wait, do you think they would feel the urge to click on that ad right now? Remember that the moment people see your ad, it often becomes a now-or-never situation. It’s either they become attracted enough to the ad that they click on it right away, or they see the ad and forget all about it the next second. And no, don’t get your hopes up that they’ll click on it the next time they see it. If it wasn’t attractive enough the first time, it won’t be more attractive the next time they see it.
Add a sense of urgency to your post, something that would tell your audience that it’s either they click on it now and reap the rewards, or wait until next time and lose the huge chance altogether. Let them know that it’s a limited offer, or tell them that only the first 50 clickers will be entitled to the deal.
Choose the right colors.
Colors do a lot for people. The right colors will make your audiences feel the right emotions. And when they have the right emotions, they would more likely click on that call-to-action button.
Find out what colors mean and how they tend to make people feel. Red, for example, is an exciting color, but should only be used in moderation. Orange is energetic, but is not as overpowering as red, which is why a lot of people find that it is very effective when used on call-to-action buttons. Blue gives a feeling of trust and truth, while purple shows royalty and extravagance. Black is not always a color of evil, it also shows mystery, exclusivity and power. Green is for growth and freshness, while yellow is used for optimism and humor.
Banner ads may annoy a lot of people, but when used the right way, they would always work to your advantage. Remember that people are very visual and emotional creatures. So when your banner ad appeals to both sides, and creates a great sense of urgency as well, then your banner ads are on their way to bringing you the numbers you have always aimed for.