Banner Ads Work; Really

As a business, there’s always a question on the effectiveness of banner ad campaigns (or online display) as a portion of an online media mix.  The doubters are aware of the low click-through (CTR) rates banner ads receive, the amount of clutter, the lack of creativity, etc.  However, any preconceived opinions on this medium needs to be turned around and thought of positively.  Billboards, transit advertising, sponsorships, and other forms of out-of-home advertising have never been chastised due to lack of business generated from these mediums. They are branding mediums; act as reminder messaging, and support direct response campaigns.  In many respects, banner ads need to be considered now in the same light, much like social media, whereby being seen or viewed multiple times can create increased action for products and services.  Traditional media planning uses terms like reach and frequency and not click-through rate or cost-per-click.  Yet, at optimal levels of reach and frequency, brand awareness increases, desire increases, and sales increase.

The above is true of a b2b message as well.  Some of the best, most efficient placements of banner ads can be had on vertical networks, trade press websites, and the Google content network.  Where pay-per-click targets people who “need” something, banner ads target audiences that are potential customers (if placed and negotiated properly).

Vizu is a company that understands the relationship of banner campaigns and branding.  Vizu uses audience polling and other tactics to tie digital campaigns beyond clicks and conversions to ore traditional outcomes that brand marketers have always searched for.  Key metrics they track are brand awareness, product preference, then purchase intent.  Their platforms support their clients needs of measuring digital campaigns and their effects on branding as a whole, and so far results have proven successful, especially with the measure in brand lift when online video is involved.  More information can be found on their website at

Here’s a study from IProspect and published by Emarketer showing user behavior from banner ad exposure.  Not the increase in search lift (27%) and direct traffic (21%). There are a number of studies that support the relationship between display and search, confirming that the combination increases product interest and branded search lift.

Here are a couple more studies from conScore showing the effect of online display and search by key business categories.  Each category shows a significant increase in search lift.

When we speak to clients and present digital media plans, we quote the above studies and summarize our strategy with these statements:

1.  Most online advertising is measured by “last-click” metrics, but at the heart of all marketing campaigns is the strategy leading up to the click, which is where banner ad campaigns and other online tactics come into play.

2.  Like pay-per-click ads, strong call-to-action creative with unique landing pages are essential to drive traffic from banner campaigns.

3.  URLs from banner ads need to be tagged so that Google Analytics can monitor site engagement and creative tactics

4.  Overall ROI needs to be measured from a campaign media-mix standpoint vs. individual tactics.  If you rely on ROI measurement from last click reporting, you’re not measuring the true value of marketing and the effects of reach/frequency as related to attribution.

Please let me know your thoughts.  Has this post made you rethink the value of banner campaigns?

About Paul Mosenson

NuSpark Marketing Founder, Chief Lead Generation Strategist and Online Media Director An experienced B2B and B2C marketer, Paul has been helping clients generate leads and grow their businesses for over 25 years. Paul helps plan and optimize marketing and lead generation programs.