Once the darling of online advertisers, ad banners have acquired, during the past year, a reputation for producing no results. Today, many advertisers are categorically eliminating this advertising vehicle from their online marketing mix. Should you do the same? Is this reputation well deserved or is it just the result of clever promotional tactics used by companies offering competing online advertising solutions.
One thing is sure, gone are the days when ad banners generated click-through rates in the double digits. In fact, recent findings suggest that click-through rates are just below the one percent mark. While the average click-through rate for ad banners is among lowest in Internet marketing, advertisers should not forget that ad banners are probably the most misused online marketing tool today.
Part of the problem has been a lack of clear objectives, a lack of understanding of the prospects' informational needs, as well as the failure to look beyond the design element of a banner. Despite the fact that they target different market segments, promote different products, and advertise different companies, most banners look the same or use the same type of message "Free stuff, click here." This similarity has desensitized web surfers to the point that the stimuli is no longer strong enough to reach the threshold that will get them to act on the information presented (i.e. read and process the banner's message, click to visit the advertiser's site, etc...).
The fact is that ad banners still offer the best value because they can, in very specific situations, produce great results at a fraction of the cost of other marketing tools. Think 2 to 7 percent click though rates are a thing of the past? Think again. Advertisers who carefully develop a strategy that defines who sees their ad banners, at what stage of the decision-making process, how frequently and in what sequence, will be rewarded with outstanding results.