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Analysis

Are Banner Ads Still Worth the Marketer’s Effort?

It's been 24 years of banner ads. Find out how one of the Internet’s initial marketing strategies has evolved

Adebisi Adewusi
October 03 2018

In December 2016 there were over 600 million devices running adblock software globally, 62% of which were on mobile. Similarly, a recent report from Smart Insights, the average ad performance of banner ads is 0.05%. That’s only 5 clicks for every 10,000 impressions. While this data isn’t very encouraging, it doesn’t mean banner ads are no longer relevant. Banner advertising also grew across desktop and mobile platforms in FY 17 by 5 and 35%. On desktop, banner advertising represented 24% ($9.0 billion) of total desktop advertising revenue and 37% ($18.4 billion) of total mobile advertising revenue.

In this article, we’ll run through the current banner ads trends and best practices to get consumers to click your banner ads. Let’s dive into what’s new.

Banner Ads Powered By Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications related to advertising and media make up 20% of the global AI market. While this statistic shows the adaptation of artificial intelligence in marketing is still at an early stage, 60% of marketing leaders believe AI will have a transformative effect in delivering the right message on the right channel.

Using deep learning, AI powered banner ads can accurately pinpoint the preferences of designated customer segments based on real time viewer behavior and deliver personalized ads.

Another way AI will improve banner ads is with dynamic creative optimization, which uses an algorithm to select the best combination of creative to put in front of a specific viewer. This means you can create relevant, localized banner ads. For example, an effective banner for an ecommerce business might automatically update to show the four bestsellers of the day. AI-driven banner ads allows brands to reach their target audience with tailored and less intrusive ads at a massive scale.

Animated HTML5

Interactive ads are a great way for brands to get personal with consumers and deliver memorable experiences. Research from MAGNA states that interactive ads are 32% more memorable than non-interactive ads, and a 15-second interactive ad turns into 45 seconds worth of time with consumers. Brands are turning to animated HTML5 to create banner ads. Reflecting the shift to animated HTML5, data from Bannersnack, which analysed more than 200,000 users and over 950,000 banner ads, shows that 65% of professionals marketers now use animated HTML5.

Animated HTML5 banners easily adapt to different types of displays, are mobile-friendly, and give consumers more engaging interactive experiences compared to traditional banner ads.  In fact, a study by Adform discovered that such as animated HTML5 had 297% more viewers than traditional banners ads.

Using HTML5, Nissan created an interactive banner that gives consumers a 360 degree view of the Nissan Juke. The banner ad also allows consumers to customize the car with selected colors. (to see the interactive ad, click here).

(Source)

Similarly, to promote Pakistan’s biggest stunt show, Mountain Dew created a fun and intuitive gaming ad using HTML5. The interactive ad challenges consumers to help navigate Feroze through the windy tracks in 30 seconds or less.

The ad demonstrates fun interactivity and an enjoyable user experience. (to see the interactive ad, c).

In a world where consumers are banner blind, animated HTML5 can increase brand awareness and ensure your banner ad delivers an engaging user experience.

Augmented Reality Banner Ads

With the success of PokèmonGo and Snapchat, it seems augmented reality (AR) might be the key to making banner ads more relevant. Due to the interactive nature of AR, consumers ability to access the effects through devices they already own, brands are integrating augmented reality into banner ads to create interactive experiences.

For instance, in a recent campaign Blippar ran with Jaguar LandRover, banner ads enabled users to sit in the new Land Rover Velar, get a 360-degree view of the car’s exterior and book a test drive on the go. The campaign saw average dwell times of 121 seconds, and a click through rate of 38% .

To spice up email banner ads on the Yahoo Mail app, Oath formerly known as AOL and Yahoo, offers their AR ad format in the U.S. To test the unit, Oath allowed Home Depot, consumers to see what furniture and holiday decorations would look like in their homes. Consumers spent an approximate average of two minutes interacting with the ads, and the campaign had a 12.5 percent .

Banner Ad Best Practices

While there are no universal rules for banner ads, here are best practices to help earn clicks and deliver a positive user experience.

Banner Ad Placement: Google recommends that you place banner ads above the fold to show off content they may be interested in. After analyzing 1.5 million eye tracking fixations from hundreds of sites, Nielsen Norman Group found that people focus first on the information on top of the page when they view website content.

(Source)

Run usability tests to make sure users actually see important content placed in the top banner or right rail, and A/B testing to see how geographical location and publishers affect your CTR.

Design: Stick to a limited color palette that isn’t overwhelming and provides the right amount of contrast. If you’re using images, one professional image is enough, along with the copy, logo and CTA.

(Source)

Gillette’s banner ad (above) uses a simple product image to keep customers focused on their razors, and the colors are from Gillette’s On Demand color palette, making it easy to recognize the brand. The clear call to action also encourages consumers to act immediately.

Regarding typography, small font sizes and low-contrast are the number one complaint for web users. Choose one or two fonts that are easy to read and use proper spacing so that your banner ad text doesn’t feel crowded.

(Source)

While Price Chopper’s banner ad is inviting consumers to a fair, multiple fonts and colors make the ad difficult to read.  Also, there’s a lot of information crammed into the ad so the call to action isn’t clear at first.

Animation: Build HTML creatives with as few elements as possible. Fewer creative assets ensure fast creative loads. A 15-second animation (or less) is enough time to get your message across without distracting or aggravating your target audience.

Augmented Reality: According to the new ad portfolio from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), AR ads can be static, dynamic or immersive. This could be a marker like QR codes, a well-designed image or an AI algorithm created with the help of device camera.

A/B Testing: Despite the importance of testing and optimizing, only 44% of companies use split testing when trying to boost conversion rates.  Conduct A/B testing to test logo placement, fonts, colors, and the CTA. New Balance test different banners ads to find what works best. In the images below, you’ll see two variations of the same ad:

(Source)

When A/B testing, test one hypothesis and adopt the result in your next creative design. The folks as Bannerflow suggest you vary your network as another form of optimization and A/B test your networks in order to get the most relevant traffic.

Despite popular opinion, banner ads aren’t dead. They remain an effective way to get you in front of viewers. To ensure your banner ads provide “ad-resistant”  consumers with an engaging experience, limit your file size, be aware of consumer privacy and embrace non-invasive advertising.

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Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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