Promoting an online business is not entirely about pay per click advertising, which in the case of the search engines emphasize text ads. Graphical banner ads can build awareness and memory of a site name and bring customers back again.
Again, all advertising is a combination of branding and response. A TV commercial brands a car model, and the hoped-for response is a customer who goes to the dealership (a lead) and buys the car (a conversion).
But what about online branding and response?
Text Ads Versus Graphical
Pay per click with Google AdWords, Bing Ads or other major contextual advertising sites is almost entirely response — meaning it is all about getting people to click — but some branding is in there, too.
Just look at the typical ads on a Bing or Google search. The ad will probably show the name of the Web site address in green type at the bottom of the ad. It is not clickable, either.
The more important online tactic that emphasizes branding is graphical banners. A graphical banner may have mixed results with direct response (a click or call if the phone number is on the ad), but it is very high on branding. A banner ad makes sense to build awareness and name recognition of a product, service or company.
Someone with a business to advertise online and who is figuring out how to spend money to promote it should ponder a few questions first:
- Is it important for people to get to know the name of the store, product, service or company?
- Is repeat visits — either online or in person — an important goal?
5 Banner Campaign Tips
If so, consider graphical banners for the ad campaign. Here are five important tips for creating effective graphical banners:
- Keep them simple with one main graphic and just a handful of words. Think of it as being a lot like an outdoor billboard on the highway. The viewer’s attention lasts only a few seconds, so get to the point.
- Include the business phone number in the ad. Most people have a phone sitting next to their computer.
- Make the ads graphically light so they do not take too long to load on a page.
- The larger the ad, the better the branding.
- The simpler the ad, the greater the effect.
Publishers who buy ad impressions from a site should make sure the site sets a limit on the number of times a unique visitor will view the ad.
Traditional media calls for three impressions per person; with online, effectiveness starts to decline after about five impressions per person.
Be Sure to Track Results
As with any online campaign, it pays to watch the response rate carefully. It’s not just about the clicks to the site. It’s also what happens when the visitor reaches the site.
Start with a small test budget. Increase it if early results look good, but don’t jump to conclusions if they don’t. Keep testing for at least several weeks.
Even if the results are good, it helps to test campaigns on other sites as well and compare the results for each one.
Because the goal is branding, track the percentage of return visits to the total visits. The percentage of course needs to increase over time.
Banner ads create name recognition, loyalty and repeat visits for an online business. They are a useful part of any website promotional campaign.