We stick by our projections: Banners are an oversold format headed for decline. But a new survey confirms that banners are by no means ineffective. In fact, a recent study by comScore and the Online Publishers Association shows that banners have much more value as a branding mechanism than a direct-response generator. They can drive more viewers to search for a brand, cause them to spend more time on an advertised site when they visit, and spend more money when they purchase from an advertised site, according to the survey on the effectiveness of banner ads.
With click-through rates ranging from 17 viewers per 10,000 for entertainment-related ads to just 6 per 10,000 for financial services, it is hard for an advertiser to see value in a banner campaign that is measured only on that result. Plus, the OPA-comScore study shows that most of those clicks are from a small sliver of the audience: 6 percent of the Internet population generates half the banner clicks.
The real value of banners, then, is the turbo-charging effect they have on people’s subsequent search behaviors. Searches for a brand or trademark were 52 percent higher among people exposed to a banner campaign than in a control group. Even four weeks out, the lift was still 38 percent. The effect on site traffic is more dramatic: a 65 percent lift within a week of exposure, and a 46 percent after four weeks.
Banner ads got off on the wrong foot, billed as a direct response vehicle when in fact they were more similar to a display ad in a newspaper or magazine. Helping local advertisers understand and take advantage of this fact is one more step toward having happy, satisfied advertisers who renew their contracts.