As you may have gathered from the title, the focus of this chapter is largely on banner advertising but don’t for one minute believe that banners are the be all and end all of online advertising. “Banner advertising” is a bit of a misnomer – modern online creative advertising is about a lot more than just banners.
The Multi-Purpose Nature of Advertising
Advertising, whether online or offline, always has a number of objectives:
o Building brand awareness
o Creating consumer demand
o Informing consumers of your ability to satisfy that demand
But when you really think about it, they can be distilled into just one action: Increasing Sales!
Advertising is based on the simple economics of demand and supply. Advertisers aim to stimulate a consumer need and then satisfy that need. Create the demand. Then satisfy the demand.
Building Brand Awareness
Making people aware of your brand or product is an important long-term goal. Once customers know about you, you’ve taken that first big step towards gaining their trust… and their patronage. It’s a simple fact that the best known brands do more business. And therein lies the rub.
The ultimate goal is to do more business and sell more.
Building brand awareness is perhaps the key strong point of online creative advertising. It’s largely visual, making it an ideal channel for promoting brand collateral.
Creating Consumer Demand
Brand and product awareness is also about creating demand. Advertising needs to convince consumers about what they should want and why they should want it. Modern online advertising can provide a great way to communicate the USP’s of your product, thereby helping stimulate demand.
Aspiration is a function of knowledge. You can’t want what you don’t know about.
Satisfy Consumer Demand
Once your consumer wants something, they need to know of your ability to satisfy that want. If your brand building has been effective, they know you exist. Now tell them how you can deliver what they need.
Driving Traffic and Sales
If your Online Advertising campaign doesn’t drive traffic, then there’s really no point in it, is there? All forms of online marketing need to drive traffic in the long term. But what about the short and medium term?
That’s where the immediacy of Online Advertising comes to the fore. Unlike traditional media advertising, Online Advertising can turn the potential customer into an actual customer right there and then. What’s more – you can track exactly how effectively your campaign does this.
Depending on the primary goal of the campaign, different payment models can be used:
CPM or CPI
Paying for exposure. CPM refers to Cost Per Thousand and CPI to Cost Per Impression. This is usually how a campaign would be priced when brand awareness is the primary goal. It’s also how most banner ads are priced in South Africa.
Paying for clicks. CPC stands for Cost Per Click. Normally associated with Paid Search Marketing, banners can be priced this way when the aim is to drive traffic. This is seldom used in South Africa.
Paying for acquisition. CPA refers to Cost Per Acquisition. This model means the publisher carries all the risk. The advertiser only pays when an advert delivers an acquisition.
If you’re into buying banner advertising, this is the best way to pay – if you’re selling it, it’s the worst way to charge.
Not surprisingly, the CPA model is not commonly used for banner advertising and is generally associated with Affiliate Marketing. Of course, the lines blur when you’re publishing an affiliate banner.
Sometimes, owners of lower-traffic sites choose to sell banner space at a flat rate i.e. at a fixed cost per month regardless of traffic or amount of impressions. This would appeal to a media buyer who may be testing an online campaign generally targeting niche markets.
So What Exactly Are Banners?
In simplest terms, a banner ad is a hyperlinked image. The image carries the message and the hyperlink takes the visitor to the advertiser’s landing page.
Of course it doesn’t have to merely be an image. In fact, this form of advertising has come a long way since the early days of images that say “click here!” and drop you off at the homepage of the advertiser’s website.
Banners can contain other forms of rich media as well and many use interactivity and sound to draw attention. The use of action scripts and technologies like Flash has taken this form of Online Advertising to a whole new level.
Types of Banner Ads – Size Matters!
As mentioned before, “banner advertising” is something of a misnomer. Banners come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Perhaps calling it “rich media advertising” or “online creative advertising” is more descriptive.
If we break it down traditionally, banner advertising can be separated into various categories according to their size and shape:
o Full Banner: 468 X 60
o Half Banner: 234 X 60
o Micro Bar: 88 X 31
o Vertical Banner / Mini Skyscraper: 120 X 240
o Leaderboard: 770 X 60
o Button 1: 120 X 90
o Button 2: 120 X 60
o Micro Button: 80 X 15
o Square Button: 125 X 125 / 120 X 120
o Rectangular ads
o Medium Rectangle: 300 X 250
o Square Pop-Up: Any size, but 200 X 200 is common
o Vertical Rectangle: 240 X 400
o Large Rectangle: 336 X 280
o Rectangle: 180 X 150 and other variations
o Wide Skyscraper: 160 X 600
o Skyscraper: 120 X 600
o Half Page Ad / Super Skyscraper: 300 X 600
While the sizes above indicate the generally accepted dimensions of ads, rich media technologies mean the ads themselves can expand beyond the allocated area of page real estate. Expanding ads, that “pop-out” on mouse-over, overlay ads that appear on top of site content, and ads that incorporate interactive elements have become very popular.
But Why Banner Advertising?
In previous chapters we went on and on about the value of marketing tools that focus on giving consumers what they want when they’re looking for it. Now, all of a sudden we’re changing course and suggesting a method of interruption marketing? What’s that about then?
Horses for courses – and some campaigns are just better suited to visual means.
o You’re promoting travel packages. What stirs more emotion – an image of a tropical paradise? Or the words “tropical paradise?”
o Want to build your brand within a specific sphere? Why not brand, through banner advertising, the websites of every major player in that niche?
o Running a competition? Keep your target market’s eye on the prize
o Launching an exciting new sports car? Images with a call to action – “test drive it now” – or interactive rich media that highlight all the exciting new features as you mouse-over that part of the car on the image
Since banners can contain rich media, they offer levels of interactivity that other forms of advertising can’t reach. Get your target market to not only see your banner, get them to play with it too. Interaction builds a bond and improves the chances of the consumer remembering your brand tomorrow.
Animations, games, video, flash – and you thought banner ads were just hyperlinked pictures. Modern Online Advertising is able to bring together a number of other online marketing tactics:
o A few years ago, flash micro sites were all the rage – now the same functionality can exist right within the ad
o Viral Marketing: clever viral marketing games or “send to a friend” functionality – again from right within the ad
o Video – check out video previews from within the ad
Online ads can further directly target your intended market by various means:
o Geo-Targeting – Online Advertising has the ability to target by country, province or city, and can even drill down to IP address
o Network / Browser Type – Markets can further be targeted via networks / browser types such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, MAC etc
o Connection Type – Users can be segmented on broadband or dial up connections
o Day and Time – Chose any time of day, any day of the week. This usually depends on the client objective of the campaign or the product itself
o Capping – Limiting the amount of times a user sees a particular ad
Banner ads, like all eMarketing tactics, are measurable. Track click-through rates and you get an idea of exactly how many people are responding to your call to action. Some publishers even have the ability to do post-click tracking i.e. you can track the user all the way to a sale if that is the purpose of the advert.
Similarity with Traditional Media
eMarketers regularly bemoan the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to educate the market on the value of Internet marketing techniques. Traditional buyers of advertising have been conditioned in a certain fashion and have come to understand advertising in a certain way.
Banner advertising goes a long way towards bridging the advertising divide. Ads have a set size, they can look very similar to print ads and they occupy a particular bit of real estate in a publication with a particular number of eyeballs looking at it. It’s easy to understand and it does the things buyers are used to expecting advertising to do.