A banner ad is an advertisement placed on a website that often occupies prime web page “real estate”, meaning the top of the page, above the fold. They are more significant than general display ads because of their larger size (often two to three times as long as normal display advertising blocks) and the greater cost associated with hosting them.

The advertisements that appear on various websites are pulled from an advertisement network that places a different ad in a site’s banner slot with each page load. Each page load is called an “impression,” as site visitors view banner ads each time they refresh or revisit a page.

Banner Ad Content

The term “banner” references the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standard ad sizes of 234×60 pixels or greater (most commonly 468×60 or 728×90), featuring a rectangular advertisement near the top of a web page. While ads can conceivably be placed anywhere on a web page, above the fold is the desired location, such that impressions among the target audience are maximized.

A screen capture of SearchEngineLand.com's website, portraying their use of banner advertisements.

A variety of content can be physically displayed in banner ads, spanning images, text, animations and even video. As with other forms of paid or organic content marketing, the relevancy of information and keywords contained in a banner ad to business offerings is essential to attracting quality leads.

Advertisements based on Adobe Flash technology have been extremely popular in the recent decade, though Flash will likely lose standing in the near future due to the adoption of HTML5 markup and rampant incompatibility of Flash in mobile devices. A common use of Flash-based ads include the “shooting games” that involve clicking an animated target to win a prize.

A recent banner and display ad trend has been “retargeting.” Essentially, when you visit a website or web store that uses this technique, the advertiser and network will track your page views and dynamically serve ads to “follow” you around the web with products that you viewed previously, or related ones.

Banner Ad Revenue

Banner ads are frequently paid for on a “per click” (PPC) basis, with the advertiser sending money to the ad network for each website visit they receive from the banner ad. The PPC cost can range anywhere from a cent per click up to tens of dollars. Additionally, banner ads can be purchased and served on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) impression basis, which favors saturating target web audiences with ads instead of chasing clicks through predictive serving algorithms.

Banner Ad Effectiveness

Banner ads, and other forms of display advertising are subject to increased speculation regarding their efficacy and future. Brafton reported that display ad spending is expected to grow steadily, even as industry experts have reported that online consumers say some forms of display advertising are the ads they’re most likely to ignore.

Industry experts have reported that online consumers say some forms of display advertising are the ads they’re most likely to ignore. Banner advertisements, for instance, are the ads most likely to be disregarded by nearly half of internet users.