If I told you to create a banner ad for me, how would you respond?

I hope you’d have questions. I hope you would want to know what it should say, what is the offer. I hope you would want to know what it was for, and where it was going to direct people. And lastly, I hope you would ask me who it was for, who do we expect to see it and click on it.

That last question is one of the most critical, because not all ad placements are created equal. It’s like a marketer being given a product and told to market it. To who?

We need to define our target market. Who are our customers?

And in the banner advertising world, a big part of the answer to “Who” is also the “Where”. Where an ad shows up matters, for a great many reasons:

  1. Where an ad shows up tells you what it is showing up next to. What are you competing with for attention? How can you leverage the content around you to draw people in?
  2. Where an ad shows up tells you why someone might be interested in what you’re offering. What are they interested in? What took them here?

From this logic, I draw two conclusions.

First, the practice of measuring display campaigns by number of impressions really doesn’t mean anything. That assumes that every impression is equal to every other impression. We know that’s not the case.

I get why we do it that way. It’s easy. But it’s stupid.

And second, while you might not have the bandwidth to create different ads for everywhere they might show up, it is a bad idea to simply use the same creative everywhere. Knowing where an ad shows up gives you vital information that your design team can use to create a more effective version.