Do Banner Ads Work? 6 Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of Banner Ads

Banner ads have been around since just about the dawn of the internet, and as new tactics like native advertising and inbound marketing have evolved, the question as to whether banner ads still have a place seems increasingly present.

To help as you navigate options for your next campaign, I’ve pulled some stats on the role effective banner ads can play as well as some details on what makes an effective banner ad.

What is a banner ad?

First off, let’s establish what we are talking about when we say “banner ad.” A banner ad or web banner is a form of digital advertising where an advertisement is embedded onto a webpage with the goal of sending traffic to the advertiser’s website.

The concept seemed appealing to businesses as well as advertisers initially, but early processes relied on direct sales between website owners and advertisers based on cost-per-thousand agreements. These advertisements often had little or no relation to the content on the web pages or to the visitors, which led to to readers not clicking on ads and advertisers not getting results.

Some major advancements have happened in the banner ad arena since that time, allowing for things like cost-per-click ads, real-time bidding, behavioral targeting, and remarketing. So the question stands—with all these advancements, do banner ads actually work?

Do banner ads really work?

Let’s explore if these banner ads actually have the ability to produce an ROI and when they might make sense for your business. Here are three examples of banner ad stats and results:

Banner ads for Google’s Android Wear campaign increased brand recall 15.8%

According to a Google study of their 2014 banner ads, “The banner creative for our Android Wear campaign increased brand recall and intent by 15.8% and 9.4%, respectively.”

Citing how inexpensive banner ads are compared to other advertising media and the level of targeting available, the article highlights that banner ads can be highly effective when approached strategically. I’ll get into what that means when I talk about ways to improve the effectiveness for your banner ads.

Users who are retargeted to with banner ads are 70% more likely to convert

In another study, it was found that website visitors who are retargeted to using banner ads are 70% more likely to complete the desired action. While remarketing is just one form of banner advertising, it does prove that banner ads in the right context have the potential to offer significant value.

Banner ads have a 33% higher response rate than billboards

A final stat on the effectiveness of banner ads relates to banner ads compared to other forms of advertising. The average click-through rate on a 468 x 60 banner ad is 0.04%. Business owners often see numbers like this and jump to conclusions about effectiveness.

However, to keep in it context, TV spots have a 0.05 percent response rate and billboards have a lower 0.03 percent response rate. Engagement with many forms of advertising can seem low, but if ROI is positive, it’s still an advertising success!

While I wouldn’t recommend display advertising on its own, these stats and many more show that it does have a place in boosting larger campaign efforts. So if you’re looking for ways to ensure success with display as part of your next campaign or you’re wondering how to optimize existing display ads, the next section is for you.

6 Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of Your Banner Ads

Because of the nature of banner ads not being incorporated into content or reflecting the reason a visitor came to a page, they need to stand out to be effective. To help you out, here are 6 key best practices for effective banner ads.

1. Clearly incorporate branding and messaging into your banner ads

Effective banner ads make clear what they are promoting. Whether it’s a brand, a product, a service or an offer, at a glance, a user should know who is advertising to them. No matter how compelling your offer is, if users don’t know who you are, the chances of them engaging with your ad will go down fast.

Clear branding and messaging includes consistency across all ad sizes and the ability for each piece of your ad to be able to stand on its own.

2. Be concise in content and imagery

While it’s important to clearly state who you are and what you’re advertising, it is also a best practice of banner ads to keep your content concise so it sticks with users who may only see your ad for a split second.

Being concise includes using hierarchy in your text (headings and subheadings) as well as plain language that can be easily comprehended.

3. Create banner ads that stand out

A great way to make your banner ad stand out is with animation. As a user is looking at the screen, an animated ad can draw their attention away from content and toward what you want them to see.

Other ways to make ads stand out include using clear images of what you are promoting, bright colors and large text.

4. Give users a next step to take

No matter how great your ad looks or how much a user likes to look at it, you won’t get responses if you don’t give the user a next step to take.

A call-to-action (CTA) is often in the form of a button with compelling text of what will happen when the user clicks on it. This might be something like “Start Free Trial” or “Download the Ebook.”

5. Keep banner ads consistent with all marketing assets

Not only do you want a clear CTA to ensure effective banner ads, but you also need to consistently present that CTA across all marketing assets for your campaign. This means using the same imagery and copy on the landing page as you do on your ad so when a user clicks the ad, your landing page continues the experience.

You also want to keep consistent across all types of display ads, including AdWords display ads, Facebook, Instagram, retargeting, and even offline and print media.

6. Know your audience when running banner ad campaigns

A final way to improve the effectiveness of your banner ads is by knowing your audience and being strategic about targeting. Select placements based on where your target audience spends their time. Where do they go to read up on news and learn about the problems you can help them solve? What social networks do they use in the context of what you are selling?

Consider retargeting people who have already interacted with your website or content, but also consider tools that will allow you to target an email list and people similar to your retargeting and email lists.


In conclusion—banner ads aren’t dead. They aren’t the digital marketing silver bullet, but nothing is. There have been huge improvements in types of display ads and targeting available to marketers and advertisers. There have also been improvements in techniques for running campaigns to get the best results. Next time you’re putting a campaign together, consider the supplementary benefits that the right banner ad strategy can have.

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