If you were part of the earliest generation of internet users, you might cringe when you see the term “banner ads.”
But the reality is, banner ads are a remarkably effective advertising strategy in the modern era – and they’ve come a long way from the obnoxious, flashing prototypes of yesteryear.
When you place banner ads, you can pay for them in any number of different ways. You might purchase banner ads with a pay per click (PPC) strategy where you only pay for the clicks you receive. But it’s more common to pay for impressions.
For example, if you have an ad with a $5 CPM rate, you’ll pay a meager $5 for each 1,000 views of the ad on a target website.
If you’re optimizing for brand awareness or the highest stages of your sales funnel, impressions might be enough. But for the rest of us, it’s important to optimize for clicks in this scenario. After all, if you’re not generating clicks, you’re probably not generating revenue. And if you’re not generating revenue, you’re not going to have a positive return on investment (ROI).
So what steps can you take to increase banner ad clicks?
Most of us remember the troubled history of banner ads.
Aggressive banner ads were on almost every website, flashing and shaking to get our attention while advertising some truly questionable products and services.
But modern banner ads are much more refined. These advertisements are highly targeted, they’re designed to be both relevant to a target audience and appropriate for the website on which they’re featured. And they must be as noninvasive as possible – or else, they’re going to be removed by the hosting website or the distribution network.
You also need to keep in mind that most web users remember or at least acknowledge a past in which banner ads were spammy and annoying. People, in general, don’t like obnoxious advertisements, so they’ll willfully ignore most of the overt banner ads they encounter in the wild. In other words, you have your work cut out for you.
If you’re going to keep your ads rotating and relevant in modern times, while simultaneously pleasing your target audience, you need to optimize those ads to be as relevant and attractive as possible.
Let’s look at the strategies that can help you get there.
Now for the meat of this article: how to increase banner ad clicks.
These are some of the best tactics for earning more clicks from your banner ads across your entire campaign:
Your first priority should be better understanding your target audience. Who are your target demographics and how are you going to appeal to them? Some advertisers make the mistake of appealing to the most general, universal audience, with the hope of reaching a greater number of people – but this is a mistake. It’s typically better to have very specific content that’s relevant to a defined niche, even if that niche is relatively small. Do the upfront work of conducting market research and thorough surveys so you can understand more about how your demographics think, how they make purchasing decisions, and how they might respond to different types of advertising. With this information, you’ll be able to craft ads and messages that are much more appealing and persuasive.
Google has some important rules and guidelines you’ll want to follow for your banner ads. Even if you’re displaying these ads on a different network, these are good rules of thumb to follow. Your banner ads can’t contain any flashing or shaking elements designed to hijack the attention of users; they also can’t masquerade as part of the website, tricking users into taking action through deception or false information. In general, if you treat your users with respect and commit to straightforward honesty, you should have no trouble getting through these filters.
Your banner ads will attract far more clicks if they’re placed on websites that are relevant to your users as well as what you’re selling. For example, let’s say you have a business that sells mountain biking gear. Do you think your banner ad will attract more clicks on a forum for outdoorsmen or a website that brings together a crocheting community? There’s probably some overlap between crocheters and mountain bikers, but we can safely assume that the outdoorsy website is going to yield better results. Fortunately, Google and other ad networks give you considerable control over what types of websites host your banner ads.
The design of your ad is arguably the most important variable to perfect, since it’s going to be responsible for forming first impressions and attracting the attention necessary for your words to have an impact. It’s important that the aesthetic is specifically appealing to your target demographics. For example, younger audiences might prefer brighter colors and more exciting, dynamic materials, while older audiences might appreciate more subtlety and minimalism. Young parents might appreciate photos of children and families spending time together, while wealthy buyers of luxury products want to see images of a lavish lifestyle.
Banner ads come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they generally occupy a minimal amount of space on a website. It’s tempting to cram as much information as possible into this relatively small canvas, but minimalism is a safer strategy. If you make use of white space, and only include the designs and information that are truly valuable, you’ll make the most of the space you have while simultaneously avoiding the risk of overwhelming your audience.
A clever tagline or hook is another way to capture user attention. Banner ads don’t typically provide you with much space, so you need to reduce your message to its simplest possible form. Instead of giving your users a bulleted list of advantages granted by your product, or explaining to them why your services are useful in a full paragraph, you have to get your point across and motivate action in the span of one or two sentences. This can be a difficult task even for the best copywriters, so spend some extra time brainstorming and whittling down your list of possibilities. Try to motivate action without resorting to cliches; the more original and exciting your hook is, the more clicks you’re going to get.
If you want people to click through, you need to give them a clear motivation, so try to include a clear call to action (CTA). Action words tend to be more effective than other types of language; for example, a phrase like “clean your kitchen faster than ever – shop now!” will probably generate more clicks than “wish your kitchen was cleaner, faster?” even though both phrases are topically similar.
People will be much more likely to click if you stimulate their curiosity. Instead of telling them or showing them everything up front, get them thinking about the possibilities. For example, a phrase like “ever wonder what a better dating app could look like?” will probably generate more clicks than a phrase like “the dating app you’ve always wanted” accompanied by still images that show off the best features of the app immediately.
I know this goes against most design fundamentals, and will probably irritate half of our audience, but the reality is, ugly ads can perform well. Why? Maybe some of us have a morbid curiosity. Maybe “beautiful” ads are so abundant that people long for something different. Or maybe especially ugly ads are simply better at generating initial attention. Whatever the case, we’ve found that deliberately ugly ads have the potential to generate clicks in a powerful way. It doesn’t always work, and you have to be careful not to damage your brand reputation, but it’s a worthwhile strategy to keep in your back pocket.
Just because the ad is displayed on a website doesn’t mean that people are going to see it, even if they’re counted as an impression. If you want to get more user attention, and therefore more clicks, you need to stand out with bolder visuals. The best visual elements are ones that provide strong contrast; ideally, you’ll break away from the style of the website hosting the ad while simultaneously presenting something visually stimulating, like complementary colors. Experiment with different placements to see how your ad might fit in the context of different types of websites. You might be surprised to find how much it blends in without a deliberate effort to help it stand out.
There’s no rule that says you can’t have any animation in your banner ads, though aggressive animations like flashing and shaking could get your ad removed. When used responsibly, animations can draw more attention to your banner ad, ultimately inviting more clicks and forming a better impression with your users. If you choose to do this, make sure your animation is eye-catching, yet subtle enough to avoid disrupting users unnecessarily. Slow pans or zooms could be exactly what you need.
Before we conclude this article, we need to stress an important truth: clicks aren’t everything.
In following this guide, and developing more banner ad campaigns, you’ll be tempted to optimize for clicks at the expense of every other metric. It’s true that clicks are a good thing for your campaign, but you can’t afford to neglect other performance indicators and important variables.
For example, you’ll still need to think about the engagement value and conversion rates of your landing pages. Even if you have the best banner ad in the world that generates an insane number of clicks, your strategy will fall apart if your landing page is unengaging or incapable of facilitating conversions.
Put simply, clicks are just one part of a “balanced diet” of banner ad metrics to track. Try not to lose sight of this in your pursuit of advertising greatness.
Hopefully, our strategies and tips have been helpful in reshaping your banner advertising strategy.
But there’s no such thing as a perfect approach to advertising; you can always make your ads more relevant and better at generating clicks.
If you want to continuously optimize your banner ad campaign, this is the process you’ll need to follow moving forward:
Banner ads are easy to display, but tough to master.
If you want your banner ads to stand out and get more clicks, or if you just need help fine-tuning your existing display ad strategy, we’ve got you covered. At PPC.co, we have a robust team of seasoned experts to help you accomplish all your digital advertising goals.
Contact our expert PPC agency today for more information!