Webeden Blog Banners Is it time to Ban the Banner?

Is it time to Ban the Banner?

4 Replies


If you’re reading an article online, especially on a newspaper website, there will be a block of colour at the top of the page with an advertisement on in. This block – usually 468 x 60 pixels but now more frequently 728 x 90 pixels – is called a ‘banner advert’, and they are the bedrock of Internet advertising. And there’s a lot of them: in the UK alone, banner adverts were ‘served’ onto a web page over 54 billion times in the last month.

The more banners there are, and the more familiar we are with them, the more we ignore them. According to research by Harris Interactive published this month, 46% of users say they ignore banner ads entirely. A mere 1% say they find banners useful in making purchasing decisions.

If you contrast this with how people respond to adverts placed in traditional media: 37% say they are influenced by TV ads, and 17% say that Newspaper ads help them decide what to buy.

This lack of interest amoung consumers in banner advertising is also being played out in the relative ‘cost’ of them. Banner Advertising is traditionally charged as a cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and rates have fallen by two thirds in the last 12 months.

This drop in cost comes at a time when advertisers are shifting their budget towards more accountable online marketing channels search as search and affiliates.

So what’s wrong with banners? Why don’t we like them, and why do we take less and less interest them?

Well first of all it might be a longevity issue. Banner adverts have been around almost since the start of the Internet – a good 15 years or so. It has been the de facto form of online advertising, and therefore the one that most of us have been exposed to. So maybe we’ve seen so many of them now we are no longer affected by them. We are ‘banner blind’.

And then there is the size issue. Browsers – the software that you use to look at websites – used to show a much smaller space on a website. But now most of us use browsers over 1000 pixels wide, so banners are looking increasingly small.

There is also the regularity of them. OK, some new sizes have come along: apart from the sizes above, there are buttons (120 x 60 or 120 x 120); ‘skyscrapers’ that run down the side of pages (usually 120 x 60 or 160 x 60); or MPUs that sit in the middle of pages (250 x 250). But because we have also quickly become familiar with these other sizes, we’ve become blind to them too. It’s easy to look past them in a way that you can’t look past a full page ad in the paper.

And there’s a placement issue. Publishers want to place editorial all best places on a page, and banner adverts – whatever their size – are relegated to the margins where they’re easy to ignore.

So what is the alternative for advertisers? Well there’s no doubt that online video offers some ideas. Publishers are in many cases able to charge money for ‘pre-roll’ adverts on online video. These are adverts that must been viewed before the user can see the actual content.

And there are other ‘creative’ advertising options. The overlay – when an advert expands over the editorial you’re trying to read – is an effective if intrusive way of getting a readers’ attention.

The issue is: if we all want to continue to get free editorial and content, then publishers will have to ‘sell’ our eyeballs to advertisers. And if we stop responding to – or even seeing- those adverts, then they will need to find other ways to raise money. And that might mean charging us to read their website.

Do you buy banner adverts to promote your Sitebuilder website? Do you sell banners on your website? Are you turned off by banners, or do you think they’re a necessary part of the Internet? Leave us a comment below.

  • http://www.buteweddings.webeden.co.uk Alison Cross

    Advertising is failing because people are going through a mindshift change with regard to their purchasing routines, I think.

    Less money to go around means tightened belts and less interest in banners – or newspaper/mag adverts.

    Don’t you find that if someone really wants something, they will just google it anyway and so the only advertising that stands a chance of working is the pay per click type?


  • admin

    I totally agree that pay per click or Search Engine Optimisation is the single most effective way to drive visitors to your website.

    But I also think that it works so much better in conjunction with another form of advertising – be that magazines, newspapers or even banners.

    For starters, if peope are ‘warmed up’ to your brand or website, they are more likely to click on your advert.

    And then when they arrive on the site they are more likely to buy, because they have seen your brand elsewhere (and know therefore that you have spent money promoting yourself and are less likely to by ‘fly by night’).

    We have found this to be the case with WebEden. When we advertise in a magazine, we don’t get a lot of direct response, but we find that the performance of our Pay Per Click campaigns go up.

    Its hard to draw a direct line, and you can’t account for every penny, but it definitely helps!


  • http://www.infra-homeinspection.com HART

    I think that allowing banners to figure besides your website in the form of adSens for example, reflects good cooperation with Coogle search engines. It is a matter of give and take . I dont care making any money on adSens but i have realised that my websites are ranking among the firsts .This fact is du to indirect cooperation with Coogle analytics and sidlines advertising


  • admin

    Woah Marcel, thats controversial!

    Are you saying that having AdSense ‘Ads by Google’ on your website means that your website is boosted up the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs)?

    It would make sense for Google to do this, because they would make more money from advertising.

    But I bet they’d never admit to it!