Display Banners: Good Advertising or a Waste of Money??

Below are two interesting articles, each taking a different stand on display banner advertising:

  • 5 Unalarming Stats About Banner Ads  – Article For Banner Advertising
    • Summary: Companies continue shelling out big dollars each year on banner advertising, despite the fact no one clicks on them, because they can still bring in positive ROI. Uses pretty mindless examples to make the point, but the point is still made…
  • Banners are the Worst Advertising  – Article Against Banner Advertising
    • Summary: Banners are a waste of money because no one ever sees them and they are not impactful enough, blah blah blah…

So which article makes the best case?  In my humble opinion, they both make some decent observations.  However, the imbecile behind the article against banner advertising is missing the point.  The purpose of online banners is never “impact”.  TV commercials can definitely be more impactful and yes, it is more common to hear people discuss the latest cool television ad than it is to speak of the last cool banner ad they’ve seen.  Talking about an ad is one thing but resulting in a sale is a completely other thing.  I may talk to friends about the last impactful TV spots I have seen, but that doesn’t mean I am going out to buy a Fiat or Axe Body Spray any time soon (hey, don’t judge my definition of impact).

The point of banner advertising is to get someone to (hopefully) take an immediate action.  All companies, big and small, have a website these days.  The best way to get someone to that site is via online advertising.  What most folks miss is how to properly measure digital – beyond just the traditional linear click and last-click site analytics. With the proper analytics setup, you can analyze much more mature attribution models way beyond basic clicks.

Don’t get me wrong, as a media professional, I’m a fan of broadcast, print, and OOH media.  In fact, studies have shown brand recall is much greater when there’s a more integrated plan in the works.  However, with the desire of immediate results accompanied with limited advertising budgets, clients aren’t asking “What mediums should I use?”  Instead, they are asking “Can I afford anything to coincide with my digital campaign?”

It’s digital first and then, if I can scrounge up some more dollars, maybe we can discuss other media.  Why?  The answer is threefold:  digital ads are cost efficient, most targeted, and easiest to measure.  Additionally, all consumers are online.  If it’s not at their computer, they’re on their mobile phones or tablets.  Even TV’s have banner ads now.  You have to hit them where they are, right?

Of course, digital advertising isn’t easy.  As the moronic “anti-banner” article stated, there IS a lot of clutter.  How do you get your banner ads noticed and in front of the right audience?  Good creative helps (have to give a shout out to that side of the business!), but it also comes down to targeting.  This can be done a lot easier digitally than any other medium.  And, despite the fact no one clicks on banners, they are still seen and can be very effective (see Just Media motto!).

As someone who’s been in media for a very long time, this seems like a no-brainer to me and maybe not worth a blog mention.  However, apparently there are still some people who need to be reminded of the importance of digital media.  Again, all mediums have their place in advertising.  But the age of digital advertising is not going anywhere.

In fact, it’s evolving and getting better!

Dale Viger
Just Media, Inc.

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