Monday, May 14, 2001

Banners Versus Commercials

It's 2006 2012 as I write this update, and not a trade show passes that someone doesn't argue declare the a banner dead. As it happens,  I first heard this argument five eleven years ago in 2001, in an article published by The Silicon Alley Reporter.  A given banner, it was said, was ineffective unless one could determine that a potential consumer actively engaged with it -that is that they clicked on it. This argument sounds reasonable on the surface, but it also negates corresponding behavior exhibited by the consumption of off line advertising, and which could not yet be disavowed as anachronistic by modern communication devices. So, I wrote a response arguing that clicks don't matter as much as impressions, and happy to say, it was published.  More than a decade later the article is quite dated, of course, but I still think it provides a valid reminder that we should not  underestimate the power of a static image to influence, or overlook the possibility of deferred action (especially after repeated imprints). After all, asking potential consumers to click here there or anywhere is a bit like asking drivers to stop, get out of their car and kick a billboard before we can measure the value of the billboard. Granted, mere visibility and hoping doesn't provide immediate metrics, but those numbers can be measured by eventual sales.  I still believe in the power of 2D. But then, I also like the Beatles in mono. What say you?

–Terry O'Gara/ 2006 2012

Banner Vs. Traditional Television Advertising
By Terry O'Gara
Originally Published in The Silicon Alley Reporter, May 14, 2001

Banner ads are generally considered a failure. But how many click-throughs does a TV commercial get? A billboard? None. And it's probably better to compare banner ads to billboards than to TV commercials, which at least may entertain an audience, as well as suggest a call to action or purchase from consumers.

Great TV commercials and billboards can be extremely effective. The One Show Interactive Awards demonstrate that great banner ads can also be effective. The key word is "great"--as in great creative. The real lesson: Not everyone with a PC can be a new-media company. How many times does one learn the programmer was also the art director, the copywriter, the brand manager, and sometimes the composer or sound designer? All the time! The result is almost a promise of mediocre results.

Probably the only TV commercials whose effectiveness can be measured immediately, like banner ads, are those that close with an 800 number for ordering--the "click through" just requires pushing 10 buttons instead of one.

What may ultimately be important regarding the influence advertising has on consumers is not the medium, but the frequency, consistency, and mindfulness of the message.

It's difficult to measure the influence on my purchasing dollar by any kind of advertising. So, perhaps it's not whether banner ads work, but if any ads work? The answer seems to be bad ads don't work. Ill-conceived branding doesn't work. But a great billboard that I unintentionally look at may spark my interest, and the online equivalent--banner ads--may be as effective.

The banner medium can be more effective than a pop-up interstitial because it remains on the page your scanning. But the moment a pop-up opens, the window can be closed, often before it really gets going. I do that every time. So, in that case, maybe banners are more effective than television. Click.