What is banner advertising?

Banner advertising refers to when a creative ad is displayed on a host site in hopes that it will drive traffic to the advertiser’s proprietary site.

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Simply put, banner advertising is a type of digital advertising through creative ads known as banners. Banners are the creative rectangular ad that are shown along the top, side, or bottom of a website in hopes that it will drive traffic to the advertiser’s proprietary site, generate awareness, and overall brand consideration. This type of visual banner-style online advertising is a form of display advertising.

How do banner ads work?

Banner ads can be static or dynamic ads that are strategically positioned on a website to capture consumers’ attention. Through banner advertising, brands can promote their brand as well as encourage viewers to visit the brand's website. Similar to other forms of online advertising, brands leverage banner advertising for a multitude of reasons. Whether a brand's intention is to build brand awareness, generate more clicks, and/or drive traffic to the brand's website, banner ads can be effective in fulfilling a brand's business goals.

Banner Ads

Are banner ads effective?

Banner ads are an impactful way to increase customer traffic, sell a product, and/or grab a customer’s attention. To determine whether banner advertising is effective, it is important to look at an ad’s CTR, or click-through-rate. The click-through-rate metric is defined as the number of clicks an ad receives divided by the number of times the ad was displayed, or the number of impressions the ad received. Therefore, the higher the CTR of a banner ad, the more effective that ad may be. Brands can look at their past campaign performance or other insights to improve click-through rate.

How much do banner ads cost?

There are different pricing models based on which display advertising tactic a brand is using. Due to the dynamic nature of banner ads, the cost of banner advertising is typically based on a pricing model known as cost per mille, CPM, which is cost per thousand impressions. With ads based on CPM, advertisers have greater flexibility to optimize campaigns and maximize the efficiency of their budget.

How to create banner ads

To get started in creating banner ads, brands should consider a few key principles and steps to be most effective.

  1. Outlining brand goals and objectives. Brands must think critically around what success looks like within a banner ad campaign and the desired action viewers should take after seeing the banner ad.
  2. Agreeing upon a budget. Before launching a banner ad, it is important to know how much a brand is willing to invest in order to know how much advertising spend can go against the ad.
  3. Identifying the right audience. Who is the ad intended to reach? Ensuring the brand has the appropriate audience in mind for the banner ad affects the overall success of the ad.
  4. Create the right CTA. What do brands want viewers to do? This could range from learning more about the brand or clicking on the ad to subscribe to their newsletter on their website.
  5. What will the ad creative look like? This should be informed by both the brand’s business goals and creative direction. Banner ad creatives should consider branding logos, high-quality imagery, readable text, and overall company branding.

These factors are important for a brand to set the groundwork for what success looks like, and ensure the creative visual of the banner aligns with the business objective.

Standard banner ad sizes and formats

Popular banner ad sizes

Popular banner ad sizes

Successful banner ads can look different depending on the branding, goals, and overall creative vision of a brand. Ad size is dependent on the shape of the banner ad, which differs depending on the ad format. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) sets the standards for the ad tech industry and creates digital advertising guidelines. In order for the industry to run smoothly, the IAB develops standard ad units/sizes in which all stakeholders must follow.

For banner ad sizes, the ad specs depend on the banner shape, ranging from medium to large rectangle, small to medium square, half page, and more. The three standard ad formats are leaderboard (728 X 90), medium rectangle (300 X 250), and skyscraper (160 X 600).

Common banner ad formats

Common banner ad formats

Different banner ad formats are used depending on the ad placement within a web page. Each banner ad format varies in ad size. Leaderboard ads are among the most common and best performing banner ads, with high impact due to its top-of-the-page placement. They have high ad viewability due to the positioning of the ad on the top of a web page.1 Leaderboard ads are often seen by page viewers immediately, and if they are engaging enough, can entice users to click on the ad. On the other hand, skyscraper ads have a tall, thin shape that, hence its name. These ads are often found on the side of a web page, stretching from top to bottom. Brands may leverage skyscraper ads with intention to encourage visitors to see the banner ad for greater brand awareness or click on the ad to reach the brands’ own website.

banner ad sizes and formats

An example of banner ad sizes and layouts.

Amazon Ads recommended sizes

Amazon Ads has recommended ad sizes that will help brands be most effective in reaching their customers.

Banner advertising examples

Below are examples that showcase different creative approaches to banner ads, all being impactful in their own ways:

Prime Video using banner ads to reach audiences on IMDb.

Prime Video using banner ads to reach audiences on IMDb.

IMDb TV illustrates banner ad examples on mobile.

IMDb TV illustrates banner ad examples on mobile.

Banner advertising is an effective tool to drive customer awareness and overall traffic to your site through a creative banner ad. For more successful banner ads, explore other real-life display ad examples.