Digital strategy agency Morpheus is a monthly contributor to The Makegood. This column was composed by Kate Godlewska, Senior Media Strategist.
It’s no secret that native ads are the biggest trend in innovative ad formats. Advertisers’ infatuation with them is warranted as the native format promises to seamlessly integrate with relevant content in a non-intrusive, creative and attention grabbing way. At the same time, many in the industry are boldly predicting the death of the banner ad. The argument, however, is not as clear-cut as whether the banner ad is dying. A crowded LUMAscape with hundreds of players provides ample room for discussion on the matter.
Though publishers and advertisers alike are constantly innovating to keep up with the competition, for some stakeholders, it would be unwise to phase out standard ad placements entirely, primarily because they work. For result-driven advertisers, standard ads have driven and will continue to drive successful performance lower in the conversion funnel due to their inherent efficiency.
While the traditional banner ad has its shortcomings, it’s evolving to stay relevant and maintain its place on digital media buys alongside native ads. Not only is the banner ad not an adversary to native ads, but it can be used as a complementary tactic. Here are three ways the banner is evolving:
Banners are not intrusive – In fact, the standard banner ad is no more intrusive than a native placement. Unlike pop-up ads, standard banners display in page and don’t interfere with content. Banner ads can also be targeted more granularly than most native ads, allowing advertisers to reach a target in a relevant context based on page-level keyword, content, and advanced audience targeting.
Banners can be creative – It’s true, banners offer a finite canvas and are limited to the standard IAB sizes. A benefit of this standardization, however, is efficiency, allowing advertisers to deliver their messages across most publisher properties at lower rates than custom and native units. Additionally, banners are evolving to elicit deeper engagement. Moving beyond the click-to-site banner, advertisers are increasingly using features like video, social sharing, form fill, mapping, and personalization to deliver more value. The main sources of innovation center on (1) giving the consumer a direct line of communication with the brand and (2) garnering earned media interactions. For example, a single banner ad can collect an email address and the creative can be saved to Pinterest boards for additional earned media interactions. These types of innovation afford brands new ways to reach their target and position their brand.
Banners get results – Critics of the banner ad like to cite its average CTR of 0.10% while noting native ads typically see higher click rates. This single metric is simply not enough to prove banners aren’t effective. CTR is not usually the best measure of campaign performance, especially when more meaningful metrics like site engagement, CPA or ROI are available. Looking at these additional indicators, it’s clear that well planned banner placements can and do deliver competitive results, proving their impact on viewers with a positive ROI and efficient CPA. As has become increasingly accepted, even if users don’t click to site, once exposed to a display campaign, they’ll later return to the site using paid or organic search to take a desired action. This common occurrence, referred to as search lift from a display campaign, proves that display ads get noticed and get results.
Banner ads have gotten a bad rap, but as they evolve and adapt to the changing digital landscape they will remain a successful placement for direct response and branding campaigns alike.