We’ve all experienced many types of digital banner ads. From content heavy rich-media units that actually entice you to engage to cute but meaningless banners to eyesore banners with ugly and hard-to-read fonts.
If you ask a digital marketing professional what the average click-through-rate (CTR) for a banner ad is, you'll most likely be answered with "it depends on the creative elements, the industry and goals of the campaign.” In terms of overall benchmark figures, for basic flash or HTML banners, you can expect .2 to .3% CTRs. This may seem low but depending on the goals of the campaign and how much is paid for the impression, it’s possibly for a marketer to meet required metrics given these average engagement rates.
Remarketing campaigns – retargeting prospects that have visited an advertisers’ site with subsequent banner impressions – can help to increase CTRs. This makes sense because the prospect is now pre-qualified as having expressed interest in the product or service. Benchmark remarketing CTRs generally range from .5%– 2%
In contrast, pre-roll video (:15 or :30 units) or content-packed rich media units can enjoy 1-3% click rates and sometimes higher.
So, many marketers are left thinking that although there are many opportunities to serve flash and HTML digital banners to an appropriate audience and within relevant content, with such low engagement rates, banners just don’t work. By the way, did you know the first banner ad had a CTR of 44%? Now, think about your CTR again. Those high CTR days a long gone, but, with some creative best practices and a solid digital media strategy, banners can provide acceptable performance metrics and be an important part of an overall campaign.
There are a few simple rules to running banner ads and getting better than average results:
1. Use an attractive image or animation to draw attention.
You’ve heard “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and it’s an actual fact that our brains react to images faster than text. The challenging part is that your banners will be on webpages that often have more than one visual component, so, competition for the prospect’s attention is high. Use an attractive image or animation so that the potential customer’s eyeballs see your ad first.
2. Be engaging.
While delivering an adequate amount of impressions to a given campaign’s best prospects is important, the delivery of an impression doesn’t guarantee that it is either viewed or acted upon.
Measuring true engagement comes from analysis of a banner campaign’s performance analytics. From a prospect mousing over and deploying an ad, to clicks within a banner to deploy expansion panels or video content, to clicks through to the advertiser’s website – all of these “engagement” points can be tracked, analyzed, given a specific value and also correlated with the ultimate goals of the campaign.
How interesting and innovative does an advertiser need to be to garner engagement? As it turns out, being extremely interesting is required. Test this on yourself right now by browsing a website for five seconds and gauging how much you remember.You were most likely exposed to numerous banner ads and only briefly looked and probably didn’t engage with, any of them. But the ads you didn’t notice will still record impressions for the online publisher and be charged to the advertisers. Even though your campaign may be delivering high impressions, without measuring engagement, you will not be able to accurately determine the success of your marketing campaign.
So, how can you be engaging? Once you’ve captured the prospects’ attention, it’s important to pique their interest as well. Prompting action in fun ways, asking prospects to use their imagination, play a competitive game or solve a problem are all good strategies. Here is a list of 50 incredibly creative online banners. Check them out and you will see that they all share two simple rules: attention grabbing and a reason to engage. Basic banners aren’t ineffective or dead, they just need to be executed in the hands of advertisers that understand how to connect with their target audiences.
Deniz Kahriman – Digital Media Specialist