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Expert opinion: Banners are back

Which advertising method to choose: click-through, link exchange, banner-based – this is certainly a very serious and difficult question. Each advertisement type has its own distinct set of pros and cons. The majority of people are quick to claim that the only effective way of advertisement is click-through via search engines, where the contents of the advertisement material corresponds to some extent to search query or site contents. I can agree on this, but I still think there are certain drawbacks present with this method. Websites covered in Google-ads tip to toe are getting more and more obnoxious with each day. They’re so full of meaningless ads on all sides that it sometimes gets difficult to even read the main text of the website. One almost feels an urge to say to the site’s designer: If you give so much of your time to your online-brainchild, why not make at least some effort to cover your attempts to monetize it? Making a penny off every click wasn’t you initial goal, was it? Well perhaps it was, but it’s a completely different story already, and if that’s the case, any attempt at effective advertisement goes out the window anyway. All we have here is a generated flow of half-artificial traffic of random people who come and go, and earn money for Google via an intermediary site as they do. It’s difficult to measure its efficiency, since there are just as many negative responses to such advertisement as there are positive ones. What kinds of people click the search-engine ads remains a complete and utter mystery, too. I’m sure you will agree that it’s rather vexing to pay 10, 50, 90 cents per click and not even know what kind of person actually made the click. It could be just a curious kid, a bored web-surfer, pretty much anyone at all. As a result we get budget loss, a couple of hits on the website and zero total sales. Especially if we’re offering a specialized product for a certain target audience.

I think the good old banner-ads are slowly starting to get back on track. Of course, there was a moment when people simply quit paying attention to banners, but the same happens to any advertisement when it’s being constantly offered in large quantities. It’s a simple conditioned reflex which prevents us from paying and focusing our attention. The solution to this problem with banner ads is a complex one, and consists of several rules. First - never overload sites with banners, second - make the information present on these banners as simple and easily accessible as it gets. No redundant, trite phrases like “Best offer!” or “Sale!”. As a customer I am looking for a product or service first, and the price will either be affordable, or it won’t. The user will only see your banner for a split second, oftentimes out of the corner of his eye, and if at that exact moment he sees something standard or trite, he probably won’t pay attention to this particular banner ever again. But if the main info is instantly visible (let’s say, “Lady Gaga New York tickets”), the result may be positive. Of course, many factors are at play: quality of the resource and the offered product, quality of the banner, user’s personal interest, and, of course, a bit of luck never hurt anyone, either. But this is real, absolutely real. The only question is, how to make a banner? Should it be static or animated? Should I pay a design company or a freelance designer, or perhaps it’s easier to make it myself? Etc. etc. My thoughts are as follows. Static banners are rarely being read by anyone, same goes for GIF-animation, which is effectively a relic from the past. We live in the age of Flash technology, so the best solution would be Flash-animation. But not everyone has programming skills, and designer services can be quite costly. No problem! You can always use an online banner constructor, where all you need to do is enter your own text. Cognition comes through comparison, perhaps your previous ad was ineffective simply because the banner wasn’t good enough. Keep on trying and experimenting, and the results won’t be long in coming.