Banner Ads… The ugly stepchild of internet marketing. I can already hear the UGH, they get in the way, they are spammy, flashy, annoying, hated, ignored…. but if used correctly, they can be quite an effective addition to your advertising campaign. Recently though, I’ve seen a few display campaigns that needed a major overhaul… so I figured it would be a good time to discuss different ways to make your banner advertising campaigns run smoothly and generate the most conversions for your business.
First things first, ask yourself if display is even the right medium for you to be advertising your business. Unlike search, where someone is actually on the lookout for your product, or an inbound marketing method; display advertising should be thought of as an outbound or branding form of advertising.
Think of banners as an online billboard for your business but with trackable results. Or a TV or radio commercial. Unlike most internet marketing methods, with banners, you are pushing out your message to someone who may have no need for or probably doesn’t care about your product or service.
This being said, display advertising can be great for branding your product, getting your brand in front of a LOT of people at a fairly inexpensive rate, creating awareness, promoting a product that is either new, or the general public may not “know that they need” yet. Or have to get the word out about an upcoming event? Display is a great form of event advertising!
After deciding that a display advertising campaign is for you, you will want to design your creative message for your campaign. The creative should have a simple call to action, not be too wordy, and should be easy to understand. Although some Flash animation on banners can prove to be advantageous, make sure not to do so in an obviously spammy way which may cause people to look down on your product.
After creating an awesome set of ads (728×90, 350×200, and 160×600 are standard sizes), the next mission is to create a page where you want the user to land after they click on your ad. Figure out your goal: Usually to collect user data or sell something. Keep your landing page short and to the point with no question as to what steps to take next. Use my list “How to: Optimize your landing page in 15 easy steps” as a guide
Ok, so you decide on display, you have some kick ass creative, and you have a landing page ready to bring in all those new leads…. now where do you put your ads????
Historically advertisers would hand pick websites 1-by-1 based on demographic information of the sites visitors… a painstaking and anciently inaccurate way of advertising. Anymore, inventory on popular websites is a dime a dozen and targeting the right user has gotten wayyyy better in the form of display advertising exchanges
In a nutshell, what advertising exchanges do is buy up display ad inventory from thousands of top websites at a fraction of the normal going rate, and resell it as a package of many websites together, with the capabilities of targeting your advertisement so effectively its kind of creepy.
When shopping for which content network to choose, consider the following available targeting methods for your advertisements and see if your network is using these methods:
Geo-Targeting – Your ads will only be shown in a specific target area, usually a defined metro city area. Remarketing – My personal favorite: Through cookie technology, you are able to re-advertise to people who have previously been to your website. Great if your business has a long sales cycle, or something that can weigh on a persons mind. Contextual Targeting – Targeting consumers that are currently reading content relating to your product or service. Endemic Targeting – Reach people that show patterns of visiting websites in the same category as yours. Behavioral Targeting – Reach consumers who have shown recent online behaviors with a selected group of sites (ex Family, Affluant, Sports etc). Engagement Based Optimization – This may be the most important form of targeting, where your budget is shifted over time to the sites that are performing better for you.
Know your stats, and track them. You should be tracking the following:
Impressions – How many eyeballs have seen your ad. This is important to brand awareness, and total ad exposure.
CPM (cost per thousand) – This is how most display advertising is purchased. Purchasing ad space on a single website is significantly more expensive than utilizing an exchange network… shop around for the best CPMs and best targeting. (generally, the more targeted you want your ads, the higher your CPM will be)
Visits (or clicks) – How much traffic is being generated to your page through the banners. Note that the visits are usually ridiculously low compared to impressions… usually around .03-.09%. If you are used to search engine marketing, this is staggeringly low, but remember: With search, the person is actively searching out your product where as in display, you are pushing out your message in hopes someone may need what you are offering. Also, people have been trained to avoid these unwanted advertisements, so the numbers are low. Keep in mind too that some people will never click on a banner, will see the message, and just go to the website later.
Conversions – Track past the click and visit to your website. What are people doing after that? Are they buying from you? Have they submitted a form for contact? These should all be part of your display advertising reporting.