Banner Ads

2019 marks the 25th year since this Technicolor Dreamcoat of a banner ad appeared on Wired.com:

The very first banner ad
Appearing in 1994 on what was then called HotWired.com, this bad boy enjoyed a click-through-rate (CTR) of… wait for it…

…44%.

It was love at first site for marketers.  (See what we did there?)

But since then, that irresistible 44% has plummeted to… wait for it…

… 0.06%
And as much as 
60% of those clicks are just fat-fingered accidents.

So, is this still a happy marriage, or are our eyes wandering towards younger, sexier ad formats, like Facebook Carousel Ads, YouTube pre-roll ads, etc? Do banner ads still deserve a place in your marketing mix… and heart?

Ban the Banner!

There’s plenty of ammo to criticize the elderly banner ad:

  • Banner blindness – People don’t even see the dang ads anymore, much less click on them.
  • Ad blockers – AdBlock Plus has over 10 million users and 168K reviews of 4+ stars. And it’s just one of the 100’s ad blockers out there.  Ad blocking is a thing.
  • _______ clicks: Fake clicks, fat-fingered clicks, no clicks. Fill in the blank and banner ads have probably been accused of it.

Long live the banner ad!

Despite all the hatred, banner ads aren’t going anywhere.  Here’s why:

  • Unlimited scale – Platforms like Google Display Network have over 2 million websites to choose from. From Oprah.com to the tiniest of blogs and forums, the options (and audience) are virtually limitless.
  • Cheaper clicks – The average cost-per-click on the Google Display Network is $0.58 and remarketing clicks are typically cheaper than that.
  • Great for remarketing – When you start using something like Google Display Network, start with remarketing those that have already visited your website. These people are already familiar with your brand and are much more likely to click and convert.

The rumor that banner ads are dead at age 25 has been greatly exaggerated.

Banner ads will live well into their 30’s and they’ll still look good — kinda like Paul Rudd, or as we like to call him, the ageless wonder-vampire.