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Will Your Banner Be Discernable?
by Brian Chmielewski
A recent Internet Advertising Bureau report gauged online ad spending
above US $350 million for Q1 1998. Some competitive online metrics
references and industry critics allege that the IAB's raw data is
inaccurate and misrepresents actual revenues by including unpaid
billings and bartered deals within their calculations. While this
claim may be true, we should not gloss over this 170 percent growth
rate or the fact that online ad spending continues to follow a
positive-flowing growth trend.
Online ad spending is still predominantly media buying-based with
industry confidence resulting from a combination of factors.
The industry average click-through rate for static banner / flat .gif
banner remains below 1 percent. While some
banner campaigns founder, others endure disproportionate success. What
elements make up the difference? Specific targeting through banner
message and by location, interactivity and placement on high-traffic
sites make a considerable difference.
- Gartner Group's prediction that consumer sales will reach US $20
billion and that business-to-business trades are estimated in
excess of US $175 billion by 2000 supports e-commercial
participation today to bear the fruits of this online marketplace
in the near future.
- Contrary to mainstream reports, many advertisers are still
experiencing high click-through levels from their banners, which
yield acceptable ROI's.
- Online ad reporting is improving, making targeting, analyzing and
mid-campaign improvements much more practical and efficient
Do you know who your audience is? Do you know who you would like your
audience to be? Chances are that a simple comparison of these answers
will produce some interesting conclusions. If your audience is on the
Internet, then why are they not at your web site? Where do they spend
their time? Find the answers to there questions and you know where to
place your message. How succinct is your message? Does it clearly
identify you or your product? Is it misleading? In most instances,
misleading banners earn great click-through rates, but insignificant
sales or lead qualification.
According to ASI Interactive, when tested against static 460 x 68
banners, interactivity increased click-through rates by 71 percent,
larger ad sizes increased click-through by 44 percent, and larger ad
sizes increased recall by 45 percent. This information is encouraging
forward thinking web publishers to experiment with new sizes and
shapes in banner development to break the 2 percent affliction. Next
generation banners are implementing video and audio streaming,
animation and virtual reality components to entertain surfers while
enticing them to click.
Interactivity promises to unburden present limitations felt by video
production experts, media developers and other out-of-the-box creative
types. Yet, until a few obstacles are conquered, interactivity cannot
- In most instances, bandwidth requirements to serve these banners
makes dial-up load times unacceptable to the user and web site
serving the banner. Web site owners will not want to discourage
visits to their pages because a certain interactive banner
quadruples load time.
- Most banner hosts adhere to a standard for banner size
requirements. Interactive banners are attempting to set their own
standard, with new sizes and shapes.
- Each interactive tool has an associated plug-in that is required to
view the technology. So, if a surfer does not have the plug-in,
they will not get the interactivity, defeating your efforts. It is
unlikely that a surfer will navigate to the plug-in site, download
the plug-in, install the plug-in, restart their computer and return
to a web page simply to view a banner. As these technologies are
assimilated into browser software, like Shockwave Flash is expected
to be in Netscape's next browser release, interactivity will become
- Development costs of interactive banners is steep in comparison to
static .gif banners. Unlike HTML, these technologies are
proprietary and not universally understood or shared.
Getting visibility where there is an uninterrupted current of surfers
makes sense. Each of the major portals is well recognized, so you are
certain to get qualified traffic to view your banner ad if you target
properly. The portals are a great source to get an immediate influx in
site traffic from your banner. If your web site is listed in the
search results and you have an ad banner on the same page, then you
have effected double the consumer awareness with each visitor.
First published in WebPromote's Sept. 1998, Vol 1 newsletter.