Banner ads are a familiar sight even today. They are the famous animated little images which, when clicked, lead to the website of whatever they advertise. Various website owners will allow you to display your banner either for a sum of money, in exchange for you displaying their banner on your website, or, in some cases, even for free.
A special possibility is PPC (Pay-Per-Click) services, where the amount of money you pay for the banner being displayed varies according to how many people click on it. Until a few years ago, most ads used the GIF format, which had numerous limitations. Nowadays, most banners use the Flash format. Flash is a technology which allows very rich content to be designed, including interesting image effects, true-color images, sounds and interactivity, while keeping the size of the banner ad small enough.
Another thing that has changed in the use of banner ads is their placement. Initially, banner ads belonged only in the header of the page, or sometimes in the sidebar -if there was any. This is no longer the case.
Now let’s learn how to use these banners.
STEP 1: The mandatory planning.
There are a number of decisions you need to take at this step, especially as to how the banner will be displayed, and what will happen when the user clicks it.
1. How will the banner be displayed? Banners placed in the header or the footer of the page have the advantage of being cheap and not very disturbing. They fit nicely into the page almost regard-less of how they look, and there is a good chance that they will be seen by visitors (while the page is loading or immediately after it has loaded).
2. What will happen when the user clicks it? If you are advertising your brand, or a service you provide, it should lead to your homepage. If you are advertising a product, it should lead to that product’s description, especially if you sell a wide range of products.
If you are on a tight budget, you may consider a banner exchange program, like neobanners.com. If you can afford some spending, you may do a bit of research and find high-traffic websites willing to display
your banner. Many online magazines, for instance, do so, and in fact so do many popular portals, like Yahoo! They have a number of strict guidelines, though.
If you don’t want to do this research, and want a very reliable banner exchange service, you should consider Google AdWords. However, since Google AdWords is a “border” service, it does require certain
special techniques to be used.
Who would want to show your banner for free? That’s pretty much a no-brainer: people who appreciate you, or what you’re doing, or your product or service. These are your fans.
A lot of people have a personal website, a blog, and a signature they use in many forums. If they dig your product enough, they may be willing to show your banner. In this case, the banner need not be complicated. In fact, a button-like image with your logo on it is enough.
If you intend to let people do this, be sure to include these banners on your webpage for them to copy.
STEP 2: Design the banner.
When it comes to ads, this is probably the trickiest step if your creative skills are not very good. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this lack of inspiration.
One option is to use specialized computer software. Tools like Swish (swishzone.com) allow you to design Flash animations without much knowledge of Flash technology – and also include a fair amount of templates.
You can find even more of these templates on Google, and you only need to change the text and images, something easy to do after ten minutes of reading the help file.
The other possibility is to pay a specialist. Since banner ads are a common requirement, a talented designer will not charge you a fortune. You can find someone to do this for you by randomly searching Google for artists’ portfolios.
Or you can compare quotes and qualifications from numerous professionals all once, at freelancer
websites like elance.com, rentacoder.com and guru.com.
These freelance websites usually employ a rating and client review system, allowing you to check out the track record of those who bid on your project, and anyone you wish to invite to bid.
STEP 3: Publish your banner.
This process is usually automatic. Link exchange services usually require you just to upload your banner through an online form and will provide detailed instructions. Large websites which offer advertising opportunities (like Yahoo!) often employ a similar method.
STEP 4: Promote your business.
Gone are the days when you merely had to have some kind of Internet presence to “get the clicks,” and if you were fortunate, a worthwhile number of sales. The emphasis now amongst Internet marketers is very much on proactivity.
One form of advertising supports and promotes another, and it’s essential that you use several ways of drawing attention to your message if you want it heard, and acted on.
Thanks to the magic of rapid and wide communication through the online social network (OSN) sites, blogs, bookmarking, clouds, article sites (outside of the OSNs) and so on, together with the straight business networking sites like Ryze, Ecademy, LinkedIn and so many more, there is no practical limit to the openings available for promoting your business.