The Jungle of Banner Ads and Which Ones to Use

Recently, a coworker showed me this graphic, and I sort of freaked out. Why is there so much advertising on a website? How would anyone know what your website is about if they can’t see anything but banner ads, interstitial banners, and moving, exploding videos playing—all interrupting your user experience? Sometimes it’s a mess. Sometimes it works. How do you know what will work for your site?Bannerads

Now, with myself being faced with the need of to add more and new banner inventory into a few websites that I maintain, I again sort of freaked out. What banner ads do I select to add into our sites? What is the typical CTR for that banner in comparison to the Exit Rate of the site? Will this banner annoy my users? There are so many questions and types of banners that one can lose themselves investigating what ads are best for their website. Having spent some time working through that investigation, I have some thoughts to share for businesses navigating this jungle.

  • First things first: Do you even need banner inventory on your site? Yes, extra revenue is great, but do you have the time and/or staff to create the banners appropriately?
  • If you decide banner inventory is a go, your next step is to choose from the Standard Banner Sizes from the IAB Ad Standards and Creative Guidelines. This helps maintain communication across the purchase funnel. You can also choose from a few other newer banners out there that go by many different names: Site Wrap or PAW Ads (Pencil and Wrap), Hover or Interstitial banners, Corner Peel-Backs, etc.
  • Once you decide what banner sizes/types you want, make sure you design banners that people will want to click. (My colleague Steven Bauer wrote a great blog on banner ad design last month.)
  • But, how do you decide what is the right banner for your site? Don’t just slap a banner on your site, especially if it doesn’t fit in the space allotted for it. Take into account what current banner inventory you have that is needed. What kind of products/services do you provide? What is your marketing strategy? What are the statistics of the CTR of a Medium Rectangle versus an Interstitial?

Ultimately you must protect the whole (the website) from becoming more about the parts (the ads). Users aren’t coming to your website to be told about other things; they are coming to see your product, read about it, and possibly take an action and buy your product. So, why would you bombard them with things that aren’t related to your site, or with flashy bouncing graphics that don’t appeal to the user?

Don’t just create banner inventory because the banner does something cool like hover or follow the user’s mouse. Make sure it will fit the demo and the user who is coming to your site. Be conscious of what your banner ads do and who is going to be seeing them.