A banner ad campaign is considered a success by most standards when more visitors click the ad and go to the site. If the site is well designed and offers what the surfer is, searching for conversions will be higher because there are more potential customers. That is simplifying the matter, but the click through rate is probably the defining measurement of a campaign's success and a higher click through rate usually equates to increased sales and marketing dollars well spent.
Back in the good old days... is how the story begins. In the beginning marketers could just slap up any banner, and users would click almost magically it seemed. Click through rates were from 2 - 5 % and little thought went into banner design, or banner placement. Those days are long gone and the average surfer has become ad blind. They automatically ignore standard banners and the click through rates have plummeted to .2 or .3%. Breaking that down to the basics, the response rate to standard banner ads is only 2 out of 1,000 visitors.
On the other hand, when there is a marketing problem there is always a solution to it and there are some techniques that can help increase the click through rate on your banner campaigns.
- Tailor your ads to the target market. A generic approach has a lower click through rate than a targeted approach. Have several banner ads ready to market to your various demographics. Younger persons may respond to certain types of ads more readily than older persons may.
Know your target audience and know what appeals to them visually and what can produce a response more readily.
Test your campaign if you plan to run it across a large network. The expense is substantial when launching a very large campaign and you should try the approach out on a few sites before spreading it across an entire network of sites. What works you keep, and what does not work goes back to the drawing board.
- Vary your ads do not just stick with a single version of an ad. Have multiple versions ready of similar ads for the same target audience. Sometimes the smallest changes can improve click through rates immeasurably. Also, watch the response to the various sizes and colors of ads. This part requires some intuition as well as skill but varying the ads and having replacements ready for non-performers can improve click through rates.
- The serious marketer will need to keep a close eye on statistics and reports. Half the job of the advertising campaign manager is determining which ads are performing and which should be replaced by another experiment. If an ad is not performing as expected then it must be immediately replaced with one that will perform.
- Use unusual sizes and shapes of banner ads to overcome ad blindness and increase the click through rates. Advertisements that mimic drop down windows or even are interactive can help increase user response and hence, click through rates. Different is better as long as it is not offensive to the eyes or sensibilities.
- The call to action is more essential now than ever in a banner ad. The call to action, banner text is a standard in advertising, no matter what media is used. It cannot be discarded in online advertising either. Engaging a consumer and creating a need are not enough, you should also prompt them to do something about that desire, and that something is to click. Using terms like "free trial" "Hurry" "Limited supplies" can prompt them to action and do something other than just look at your banner ad. This increases click through rates.
- Avoid hostile banner ads. Banner ads are placed on a variety of sites and paid for but the site owner still has the choice of whether or not to accept the ad. Banner ads that obtrusive, annoying or too flashy simple will not receive the exposure because many websites will not display them. Furthermore, hostile or aggressive ads annoy the user and hence are less effective.
- Realistic expectations are imperative in banner advertising campaigns. Many advertisers have no idea what a good click through rate is. So if they are not educated about click through rates they rapidly become disappointed with the results. Instead, it is important they understand what is reasonable and what exceptional performance currently is. Set reasonable click through rate expectations and then budget accordingly.
- Interactive ads are effective and can increase click through rates. Interactive ads may be somewhat more expensive to design but they engage the user and overcome much of the boredom that surfers feel about banner ads. Commonly seen interactive ads include those that ask the user to mouse over the product for a full view. These never catapult the user to another site just by mousing over, but do provide more information.