How to Design A Successful Banner Today And For The New Millenium

By Eric Bonnici, BSc., BA. Copyright © 1999, Alexander Joseph & Associates, all rights reserved

Have you ever wondered how to design a banner for your web site that will attract visitors and have a high CTR (click through ratio)?

Youíre not alone. I have been considering this myself lately. Although I am an experienced web developer and Internet Marketer I have not designed a banner ad in almost a year. Furthermore, the rapid developments and advancement of the Internet combined with my hiatus from banner productions has left my skills a little rusty. Thus, to get back on my feet I thoroughly researched banner advertising as it relates to the current market and technology so I could create a banner for one of our web sites, (the Eyes On Windsor Dining and Entertainment Directory - http://www.eyesonwindsor.com ). I discovered some very valuable facts and will share them with you in this article.

Here is what you will learn:

1. The basics of successful banner design
2. A note on targeting the right audience to improve click thrus
3. A note on testing to improve your results
4. How banner advertising is evolving with the advent of new multimedia technologies.

Plus, you will find useful links and references to banner related web sites on the net where you can empower yourself with more information on this important facet of Internet Marketing.

1. The basics of successful banner design

Attract Attention With Animation.

The first step in enticing someone to click thru is for your banner to grab their attention. So remember grabbing someoneís attention is one of your main goals. A clean design that is appealing to the eye is important for both static and animated banners. However, adding a little animation will go a long way in grabbing your targetís attention over a static banner. Clearly then, you should use animation on your banner.

Be sure to keep the animation tame, donít over do it, or else the animation may overwhelm the message you are trying to convey with your banner. In fact, too much animation looks tacky and will project an image of poor quality or unprofessionalism. Finally, too much animation will increase the file size of your banner. This will cause the banner to download so slowly that many web surfers wonít see your banner because they will click away from the web page before it finishes downloading.

Overall, animation used properly is a very important facet of an effective banner.

Use a Call To Action And Watch Them Click

An important part of a banner is a call to action. Creating a call to action can simply be done by adding the words "Click Here". Go a step further by putting a button that looks clickable on the banner with the words click here on it.

Rather than just telling them to "Click Here", you could also tell them why to click here. For example, if you are offering a free report, then you could say "Click Here For Your Free Report", or a site selling cook books might say "Click Here To Get Your New Cook Book". However, try not to go overboard by using too many words because that will tend to reduce the effectiveness of the banner. Usually just the words "Click Here" will suffice when combined with an effective headline.(We will discuss headlines more in the next section on Effective Ad Copy)

The main point to remember is to get them clicking on your banner. By keeping a call to action in mind when designing the banner you will be able to accomplish this task.

Effective Ad Copy

Make sure to use words that motivate and sell. Keep the wording simple and short. Use a grabbing headline by trying to incorporate a major benefit into the headline. By adding a benefit to the bannerís headline you will be more successful in motivating the web surfer to click thru. Benefits that work best are those that give the web surfer the feeling that they will either be gaining pleasure, avoiding pain, or will make their life easier.Remember your space is very limited on a banner so keep your headlines short and effective.

If you need some help improving your ad copy writing skills two resources I would recommend are:

How To Make Your Ads Pull Like Crazy - A Free E-Book

Make Your Site Sell - A lot of excellent ad copy info here.
Get your free demo download at:

Study and Model Successful Banners

One of the best ways to succeed is to model what is already successful. I suggest you visit The Neilsons/Netratings web site at

The Neilson Netratings site features the top 10 performing banners of the month and of the week. Have a look there, you surely will be able to come up with some new ideas or incorporate some aspects of these banners into your own designs.

Banner Related Articles

For more information on banner design be sure to visit the Four Cornerís Effective Banner Design Web Site. They have many articles on the subject:

2. A note on targeting the right audience to improve click thrus

Putting your banner in front of your target audience is very important. After all, what is the point of placing a banner promoting Unix Programming on a Wedding Planning Web Site? Common sense alone tells us that very few people would click on that banner no matter how well designed it is. Clearly then, be sure to place your banner in front of your target audience.

There are many methods of doing this online. While this is beyond the scope of this article I will mention two ways. One is to find a web site that compliments yours and pay for a banner ad there. The second way is to use banner advertising on the major search engines. The major search engines will have your banner come up only when a web surfer does a search using specific keywords (this method is pricey and recommended only if you have a sizeable budget).

3. A Note on testing to improve your results

In order to be successful and improve your banner you must test it and measure the results. First, define what results you are looking at. For example, is it the number of sales made from your site, or the number of people who subscribe to your newsletter? You will also need to keep track of your banner CTR (click thru ratio). Most banner exchanges and ad agencies you advertise with will keep track of this for you. Your job is to slightly change your banner for a set amount of time, say a one week period. Change one small thing at a time. For example, change the background color of the banner, or change the wording slightly like from "get your subscription today" to "get your free subscription today". With every period of time you have a change implemented keep track of the CTR and your desired results. Compare the two. What you are aiming for is for an increase in both. When you find the best results keep that banner for a while.

Note: Even though this process will result in a productive banner, eventually the effectiveness will wear off. Thus, it is important to replace your banners regularly with fresh new ones after the banner starts to lose its effectiveness and begin the testing period over again with the new banner.

4. How banner advertising is evolving with the advent of new multimedia technologies

Banner advertising has already started to march onward into the future with the help of technologies like Java, and Real Networkís streaming audio and video. This has given the banner ad the ability to broadcast both streaming audio and video clips. In fact, ADNet President Michael Henderson said the new audio-enabled ads have doubled or tripled previous click-through rates for clients using ActiveBanner ads, according to ADNet research.

Some of the companies on the forefront of these type of banners and links to their demos are:

ADNetís Active Banners:

Frontier Interactiveís Audio Banners:

This type of banner advertising and design will surely be common place on the Internet in the very near future. In fact, we are currently developing multimedia enabled banners using Macromedia's Flash 4 Technology. Be sure to keep your eyes on this type of banner advertising technology.

Clearly then, banner advertising and design is changing with the advent of new technologies. However, like any proven advertising method it is important to stick to the basics. So when it comes to banner ads follow the design tips above, be sure to target your audience, and constantly test and change your banners until you get the best possible results.

Eric Bonnici is the founder of Alexander Joseph & Associates and offers you proven Internet Marketing Services, Web Site Design Services, and a FREE E-Zine that will help you succeed on the Internet. Visit today at: http://www.aj2000.com


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