Skip standard ad placements linked to banner blindness
No matter how unique you make your banner ad, it won’t get any views or clicks if it’s in the wrong place. Availability bias has long since taught adept web users where advertisements appear on the page, like at the top and along the right sidebar.
Nonstandard ad units are a great way to get around that, but they’re often more expensive than traditional ad placements. Moreover, some formats are just far too irritating to even consider.
Two placements you might get some traction with are interscroller ads
and in-image ads. Interscroller ads appear as a standard banner and expand as the user scrolls down the page. If the visitor is not interested, it’s easy to cancel, which keeps frustration to a minimum.
In-image ads show up inside the frame of an image to at least get eyes on the banner for a few seconds.
Incorporate bold CTAs in banner ads
Getting ad impressions is only half the job. You also need people to click, which requires a strong call to action (CTA). To effectively motivate people to act, the CTA needs to make it 100% clear what you’re offering and what the viewer needs to do to get it.
If the CTA just says, “Click Here,” it’s not likely to inspire any action at all. The CTA must be descriptive above all else and show the user you’re giving them what they want. For example, “Shop Now for Exclusive Deals,” “Unlock Your Savings,” and “Explore Our Collection” are all much more powerful when it comes to influencing user behaviors.
Work native ads into the web page design
Integrating your ads into the web content makes them much more likely to be seen and drive clicks. Known as native advertising, these unobtrusive banners go against the grain by matching the look and feel of the web page. They’re interwoven into the page layout and appear in the article feed just like the rest of the content.
Since native ads don’t stand out, people don’t unconsciously tag them as promotional advertisements and move on. Users don’t feel as annoyed or antagonized either, as they so often do upon noticing ultra-bright, flashy ads. Instead, the ad fits organically into the user experience and often feels like valuable content.
When using native ads, you do have to be careful to avoid making people feel like they’ve been tricked. It’s also a legal requirement. The FTC requires that we clearly label all native advertising to ensure transparency. Use the labels “sponsored” or “advertisement” to prevent your visitors from thinking the text ads are organic and unbiased.
Use contextual targeting for ad content
Contextual targeting is a fantastic method of getting your banner ads in front of people interested in your products. Using this targeting method also improves your chances of ensuring your ads are in the right place at the right time.
Displaying relevant graphic ads takes a little work behind the scenes to get it right, and it all starts with customer research. This includes understanding what your customers want from your brand and where they spend time online. After that, it’s time to do some keyword research to see what terms and phrases your customers use to find products like yours.
With that information, you can place your ads on web pages that cover the same topics and keywords as your advertisement. This helps ensure relevance without making people feel like they’re being watched, as is common with behavioral targeting.
Optimize banner advertising for all platforms
Gone are the days when people only access the internet from their home desktop computers. Now, it’s all about laptops, tablets, and smartphones that are accessible and usable on the go. If you’re not creating responsive ads for all the most popular devices, you’re missing out on many opportunities to reach people with your ads.
Creating responsive display ads can be costly on your own, but Google offers a shortcut. When using their Ads program, you can upload your assets into the system, and it’ll automatically adjust the ad to fit the target device. Just note that using this platform does limit your control over how your ads get displayed and where.
If you want to retain complete control, you’ll need to adjust the size and appearance of each banner advertisement manually. You may need to hire an outside designer if that’s not in your wheelhouse, which can make it even more expensive to implement.
How to measure banner ad interactions
Availability bias not only affects people’s reaction to banner ads but also makes it virtually impossible to accurately assess how well ads might perform. Even if you feel smitten with a design, that doesn’t mean your target audience will notice the ad, click on it, and complete the desired action.
You need objective data to lead the way to the right ad design and placement decisions every time. To get it, use any or all of the following methods.
Perform A/B testing for banner ads
Every detail matters in creating the most engaging banner ads. One small change could make a big difference in the visibility and click-worthiness of each design. But how are you supposed to tell what changes had the biggest impact on your results?
A/B testing allows you to compare both banner ad designs to determine which one will perform best. The ads run simultaneously for a set amount of time, so you can collect performance metrics about each one. At the end, you can compare the results to find the winner.
Your initial tests can focus on dialing in your overall format, style, and messaging. After that, you might want to run more tests to fine-tune the ads for even better click-through rates and post-click conversions.
Taking good notes is the best way to ensure the test results effectively guide your static and video ad creation process. Record your results in a spreadsheet to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Use those notes to identify poorly designed ads, create new designs, and set up additional tests to avoid repeating what you’ve already done.
Run eye-tracking usability tests to identify ad blindness
Eye-tracking tests are the gold standard in assessing the performance of online ads. Each test session provides a wealth of data about where people focus their attention and how they interact with such ads. You can use that data to create genuinely compelling ad designs and find the perfect placement for them on the page.
Eye-tracking usability tests are a bit more involved than A/B testing. You’ll directly oversee setting up the eye-tracking software, designing the testing environment, and recruiting participants. But that’s not all. You’ll also have to conduct the tests and analyze the data to get actionable insights. Depending on the software you use, it may create a heat map or gaze plot for your review.
You can hire a professional research agency to conduct eye-tracking tests for you if it’s in your budget. Many low-cost eye-tracking software options are available today if you want to save money. Some are priced as low as $25 per month, while others charge for each session or have a flat fee.
Measure KPIs to gauge your success in avoiding banner blindness
Measuring and tracking banner advertisement key performance indicators (KPIs) just makes good business sense. The data shows your progression from budding marketer to display ad expert and reveals which static and video advertisements generate the best results.
You’ll find most KPIs in your advertising platforms, like Facebook or Google Ads. If you want to track post-click conversions, you’ll need to work with your clients to set up tracking on their website, too.
If you’re new to tracking, just pick a few KPIs to watch at first, like impressions and click-through rates. Otherwise, you can add many more to your list to see the whole picture, such as:
- Quality score: The overall relevance of your ads to the target keywords and landing page
- Average position: The location on the page in relation to the other online ads
- Number of conversions: The total number of times website users click on your online ad and complete the desired action
- Cost per click: The amount you pay each time someone clicks on your banner advertisements
- Return on ad spend: The amount of money you earn versus the total ad spend for each campaign
Check the data on a set date each month and record the numbers in a spreadsheet with a clear identifier for each ad you assess. Depending on your platform, you can export the data to a spreadsheet with a couple of clicks. Either way, analyze the data regularly to determine what works and where you need to make changes.
Avoid banner blindness and get your ads noticed
With the right tactics, you can cut through banner noise and create ads that get noticed. Your efforts may even win you more than a few clicks along the way. Banner blindness is likely to happen again, however. So, remember to run tests and change up your strategy as needed to maintain effectiveness in your advertisements. Keeping up with the ever-evolving digital landscape is challenging, but your willingness to adapt and innovate will ensure continued success.