AT&T debuted the first banner ad in 1994, catalyzing an entire industry of digital technology that changed the way we engage audiences. Banner ads led to the rise of programmatic advertising—the use of data to buy digital ad impressions in an automated fashion—and sparked new creative formats, including native ads and programmatic video. Marketers now have a lot to choose from, and many digital experts wonder whether banners still have a place in digital. Let’s evaluate the benefits of banner ads compared to newer digital ad formats, and show where they fit into a diverse strategy.

When Banner Ads Work

When choosing which tactics to include in your digital ad strategy, start by taking a hard look at your goals and select ad formats that can help you deliver on them. For instance, if your top priority is to build awareness and brand recognition across a large audience, an ad format with plenty of available inventory will allow you to win as many impressions as possible for a competitive price. Banner ads are a top contender because available placements are everywhere. Publishers have monetized their sites with traditional banner ads since native and video programmatic technology were in their infancy, and as of October, banner ads still account for 56 percent of all inventory, according to Google’s programmatic inventory availability report.

With so much inventory to choose from, you have an excellent chance of reaching members of your target audience—one reason why advertisers are projected to spend 49 percent of their digital budgets on banners this year.

Now, let’s look at this a different way. Being everywhere is a good thing if your goal is to scale your message, but it can actually work against you if you’re aiming to engage audiences in a deeper way. Take for instance, “banner blindness,” which occurs when users disregard banner ads. The good news, however, is that this challenge is driving advertisers to reinvent the user experience and think outside the box creatively with new formats such as native advertisements and programmatic.

Native Ads

Native ads are creative units that incorporate the look and feel of the pages where they appear. If you’re looking for a new way to engage and educate your audience, the editorial format of a native ad can help you overcome banner blindness and capture attention without seeming disruptive, driving an average click-through rate (CTR) of around 0.8 percent. Native advertising is particularly well-suited to social media, but programmatic applications can provide the same level of user engagement across other channels. While inventory for native ads isn’t as widely available as banner inventory, spend on the format is expected to increase by 27 percent this year, indicating that more will be available in the future.

Programmatic Video

Programmatic video is another powerful tool for advertisers focused on engaging specific people with compelling stories online. While impressions for video are typically more expensive than other ad formats, immersive audiovisual experiences are an effective way to grab attention and forge connections with viewers. In addition, video ad inventory is widely available and expected to grow even more as consumers access more video content through mobile devices.

So—what’s the best type of ad for you? It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

Evaluating your campaign objectives will help you build the ideal mix of ads, while engaging users in new ways. Interested in learning more about building a diverse digital advertising strategy? Reach out to us.

Marketers now have a lot to choose from, and many digital experts wonder whether banners still have a place in digital.

About the Author

Nikko Lobato

Media Strategist

Nikko helps to design strategic media plans that target the right person, at the right place, at the right time.