These days, it’s getting really hard to get noticed with advertising. We’ve all but thrown the YellowPages out the window. We ignore billboards. Pop up internet ads are so 1995.

What about internet banner ads? Do they still work?

It depends on who you ask, I suppose. But since you asked me, here’s my take.

3 Surefire Ways to Fail with Banner Ads

Like I said, it’s all a matter of opinion. But there are certain things that make your banner ad doomed for failure.

1. It Flashes.

Nobody likes a flashing banner. It’s distracting and makes us want to leave your website. In doing my research for this post, I found it ironic that this post about banner ads had a horrible flashing example right next to it. I don’t think the blogger got the irony.

It’s fine for a banner to rotate images, but there should be a reasonable amount of time for each image, and it should be gradual, not shocking.

2. Post Them on Irrelevant Sites.

I can almost say “gone are the days” when webmasters would accept any ole banner ad. But we’re not quite there. People still think they’ll make tons of money accepting ads, even if they’re not relevant to their readers. Don’t leave it in the hands of the people you’re giving money to; determine for yourself whether a given website reaches your intended demographic.

Ads do better when they are in front of the right people. If I’m on a food blog and see an ad for a line of organic seasoning, I’m more likely to click on it than if the same ad was on  a blog about pets. See my point?

3. The Ads Are Poorly Designed

I beg you: please don’t design your own banner ad. There’s psychology into what goes into a good ad of any sort, and you might not be the best person for the job, even if it saves you money.

If you’re selling a book, people may not be drawn in by your smiling face. Or a pile of money. It’s important to know your audience, as well as design basics, to have an effective ad.

So What’s My Conclusion?

Yes and no. Internet banner ads that are well designed with the audience in mind can get the attention of website visitors. We’ve got the tools to make really cool interactive ads that let visitors click on them to share or learn more. I like this ability, but I also like my option to ignore them completely.

This ad, found on Yahoo!, is a good example. The screen shot doesn’t do it justice, because it’s an animated ad, but when Ariel swam across the ad with bubbles behind her, it got my attention.

Engaging Yahoo Banner Ad
You can easily figure out for yourself if your banner ads are doing their job. Using analytics built into most ad networks, you can see how many clicks an ad is getting. You can test different wording or images to see which get best results.

Don’t know where to start? There are ad networks galore that will connect you to websites that fit your demographic. A few include:

  • AdNetwork: reaches a variety of industries
  • JuiceBox Jungle Ad Network: popular with mom bloggers and parenting sites
  • Travel Ad Network: As you’d guess, focuses on the travel industry
  • There are networks for many niches. Ask others in your field which they get best results with.

You can also reach out directly to blog or website owners to see if they accept ads directly from the advertiser (you). You might be able to negotiate a better rate this way.

Have you used banner ads and gotten positive results? Please share your tips and resources with the rest of us!