Banner Ads, Like a Backhand to Your Customers Face

What’s the best way to design a marketing and advertising campaign?

It’s simple really. Find a way to deliver a message that your audience wants, when they want it, in a format that they want to consume it in. That’s it. If you can do that, you can build a fantastic marketing campaign.

The problem is many businesses and brands go about it the wrong way. They try to craft a message that they think their customers are going to want to hear or see, that also sells their product or the service. Then they force-feed it to as many people as possible via paid advertising. On the Internet, this usually comes in the form of banner ads.

Let me paint the picture that I know you have all experienced in some version or another.

You’re trying to get the scores of your favorite basketball team, so you visit your go-to website for scores and right before you get to the game, a pop-up shows up for a fast food restaurant that you don’t go to, and don’t even like for that matter.

What do you normally do?

You click the “close” button to get it out of there. You then continue to scroll down the page to find the score that you’re looking for. Then all of a sudden, another ad slides over from the right-hand side and it gets right in front of the text that you’re trying to read. You’re starting to get a little bit frustrated now, so you click the “close” button again.

Finally, you get to the score, but right above it, there’s a flashing banner for that same company, or maybe it’s a completely different one. Still, it has nothing to do with checking your sports scores. This is the case for many people that search and surf the Internet. Trying to find content that they want, but being forced content that they don’t.

Does it effectively brand that company, or does it piss people off enough that they have a negative view of that brand? Data shows that they are either dying or at the very least, keeping up with TV commercials. But either way, it’s not the smartest place to drop your budget.

For the majority of brands and businesses that use banner ads, they just simply don’t work. They are either frustrating and annoying for the very audience that they’re trying to woo into purchasing their product or service, or they just flat-out don’t even notice them.

We’ve been so saturated with banner ads pretty much since the existence of the modern Internet, that we don’t even notice them anymore. We just get in the habit of clicking the “close” button, trying to click through them and if there’s too many on a website, then we simply get off that website and we’re gone.

Brands need to get smarter about the way they spend their dollars. There are huge brands out there that can spend ludicrous amounts of dollars on all kinds of advertising just to get their brand out in front of as many people as possible, but those brands are exceptions to the rule. For most businesses, banner ads are either annoying or unseen by their target audience. Thus, they are a waste of money.

You could pay $10,000 for a banner ad campaign to interrupt a million people from reading or viewing the content that they came to see. Does that seem like money well spent?

Let’s go deeper. Let’s say, you find a website that has your customers coming in and out off regularly, and you spent that $10,000 to get a banner ad there for a few days. Great, a relevant website with some of your target audience visiting daily.

The problem is that $10,000 will probably buy you only a day of space, at the most, on a reputable website. In this day in age, gone are the days of “the average consumer will make a purchase decision after seeing an ad 6 times (or whatever that statistic was). These days our ADHD kicks in hard, and we need to see brands, ads, logos, and messages 20, 30, 40, 50 times, before we even think about making a decision.

The Internet has changed our brains. Even if you have that banner ad there for a few days, it’s unlikely that it’s going to impact enough to make it worthwhile.

Now, I’m not hating on banner ads for the sake of conversation. I’m simply stating that it’s an outdated type of advertising that isn’t efficient anymore. It might have a place in broad-based campaigns, but with the availability of social media, content marketing, and sponsored content, we have a much better playing field.

We as marketers don’t have to shove our message in front of people anymore, now we are able to develop content that is served only to the people that are most likely to want it and to do it in a way that will gain their attention, their trust and engage them to have a conversation with us. That conversation, in turn, is much more likely to lead to potential sales and even referrals.

All I’m asking is that when you’re thinking about designing your advertising and marketing campaign, don’t just pick tactics and strategies, because they’re what you’re “supposed” to do. Pick them because they tell great stories and they have a major impact on the people who are most likely to care and to engage with you, because only then, are you most likely to get the sale.

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