Enjoy A Banner Year Without Rethinking Everything

Is it time to rethink the banner ad?

In a recent blog on MediaPost, Infolinks CEO David Zinman asks this very pointed question, proudly proclaiming,

“I have been raising the banner blindness flag for several months now.”

Zinman goes on to state that his company “launched a survey to find out just how serious the problem is,” then shares some interesting data gleaned from this serious survey, such as:

      • Just 14% of people surveyed remembered the company or product in the last online ad they viewed
      • Only 2.8% thought the ad was relevant to them
      • A whopping 50% of the respondents surveyed never click on ads at all
      • Some 35% click on less than 5 ads per month

Zinman then cites data from comScore’s “2012 Digital in Focus” report that claims the average American eyeballs come across 1,407 ads per month, and proclaims, “Surely we can’t be satisfied with CTRs below .1%.”

Here at the Amplitude Digital blog, we’ve written before about many digital media insiders’ tendency to not only attack the banner, but often do so while frothing at the mouth (or at least fuming at the keyboard). Not long ago, The Atlantic Senior Editor Alexis Madrigal asked, “Why are banner ads all over the web if nobody likes them?“…And Digiday‘s Brian Morrissey decried display advertising as “an ugly intruder onto pages.

So, really, this outrage comes as no surprise to us, and may not to you either.

eBayWe’ve also stated our opinion here before that a lot of studies and surveys are either too biased, too basic, too lacking in hard data, or some awful combination of all of the above. Serious self-study and critical analysis is one thing, but self-serving and suspicious “findings” are never anything to be proud of. Of course, companies like eBay will still bend over backwards to congratulate themselves when they “find” something “wrong” with the digital media universe.

In the end, all studies should be taken with a grain of salt. Especially when they are lacking in strong, solid comparative data and analysis. And especially when it comes to marketers – both traditional and digital alike – who have always shown a tendency to put too much stock into things like “hearsay data.

We wrote recently about some statistical and methodological holes in a glowing analysis of competitive benchmarking in a post at SearchEngineWatch.com, and we see the same thing at play here in this (most recent) angry attack on banners over at MediaPost.

There is no detail provided on the serious survey that was “launched” by Zinman and the good folks at Infolinks. He doesn’t reveal who was surveyed, how many people were surveyed, or how, when and where the survey was administered. In short, there’s no data to back up the data we’re presented with. Nor is there a link provided to read more of the survey. For all we know, Zinman asked 10 people on the street outside his office, “Hey, you guys ever click on any online banner ads?”…and five people said, “Nah, man. Never.” At least one of them may have even immediately returned to an animated conversation with an imaginary friend. Or begun vigorously waving an invisible banner.

And besides, who’s to say definitively (other than Zinman) that “we can’t be satisfied with CTRs below .1%”…especially if your ROI is on target?

Zinman loudly decries “banner blindness,” even going so far as to dramatically “raise a flag” – which is a bit ironic, given that his company’s serious survey supposedly proved people ignore banners. He then goes on to insist, “it’s time to rethink the conventional banner once and for all,” and passionately plead a case for “thinking differently about the importance of relevance and placement.”

That’s a lot of rethinking for one post – especially in a matter of mere sentences – and we have to wonder if it’s really even that necessary. And if maybe Zinman isn’t being a bit blind to the bigger picture here.

Again, if your ROI is on target, you can live with CTRs below .1%. And just as we pointed out in our previous post on banner ads, there’s plenty of hard data to support the relevance and effectiveness of display advertising, including banners – such as the eMarketer report that showed advertisers spent $7.55 billion on banner ads in 2011, and are expected to increase that spending to $9.6 billion by the close of 2013. Numbers are funny like that – depending on where and how you look at them, they can tell you a lot of different things, some of them better than others.

Of course, the points about seeking to improve “relevance and placement” of banner ads made by Zinman hold true, but you could say that of any form of advertising, at any point in history. When the first caveman carved out the first rock wall ad for Brontosaurus burgers, it probably didn’t take him too long to realize he’s better served scratching up business where hard-hunting cavemen tended to congregate. Or if it did…some other knuckle-dragger probably beat him out and stole his business. Life is a process of trial and error, and that’s certainly always been true in the worlds of advertising and marketing – from crude cave paintings on rock walls to rich-media digital display banners promoted via Twitter.

And in 2013 America,

most digital advertising and marketing professionals use modern data-capturing tools and techniques and good, old-fashioned experience to continually enhance not just the quality and experience of banner ads, but also the intelligence behind the delivery and placement. And sometimes, they even recruit cavemen to promote their products.

Just like in any endeavor, some people do a better job than others. And experience and intelligence are key components to success. Here at Amplitude Digital, we’re especially committed to helping our clients maximize their advertising and marketing spends – whether it’s via banner or other display ads, Google AdWords campaigns or social media endeavors. Of course, those are just some of the ways we can help you promote your product, grow your business and garner real results.

And we promise to not only measure, weigh and fine-tune those results…but to also reveal our methods and data to you, our valued partner in growth.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you launch a banner year for your business. Without having to rethink everything. Or reinvent the wheel…or banner.

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