Let’s get you started right at the beginning. Below are some key terms to get you up to speed on phrases you’ll commonly hear.
An ad banner is a digital ad that is embedded on a website or other device with the purpose of attracting visitor engagement.
A live banner is a banner ad which is created dynamically (or whose content is created dynamically) at the time of display, instead of being pre-programmed with fixed content.
The ad server is where the banner will be hosted. Ad servers help with delivering the banner to their appropriate target space such as a website or app. Although varying in services from one to the next most ad servers also help with management of the banners campaign and analytics.
Ad trafficking refers to the process of setting up an ad campaign. Its spearheaded by the ad trafficker on the ad server who monitors the campaign and provides status on your media buy throughout the process.
Every time an ad is pulled from the server and loaded to be viewed by a user, that’s counted as an impression.
CTR (Click-Through Rate)
The Click through rate is used to measure ad success. You get the clickthrough rate by dividing the number of clicks by the number impressions.
For example, if you had 100 clicks and 1000 impressions, then your CTR would be 10.0%.
Here’s how it’s calculated.
CPI (Cost per Impression) / CPM (Cost per Thousand Impressions)
Cost per thousand impressions.
Standard vs. Rich Media
Another common question we hear is what’s the difference between a standard banner and rich-media? To break it down simply:
Low in file size, more limited animation or even static
A single interaction of a ‘click’ to exit the banner.
Ex. Youtube Masthead
Big Box, Leaderboard, Sky Scraper
Banners come in all shapes and sizes, however a few are more common than others. As the web, devices, and user interaction mediums evolve, banners will continue to adjust accordingly but these are three terms you will hear often.
300×250 (Big Box)
Before development begins, the developer needs to know what the specifications of the banners are. Specs include but are not limited to: format, file size, dimensions, click tags, ad server, duration of banner.
Flash banners are for the most part dead. Most modern browsers no longer support them.
MAKING BETTER BANNERS
It’s no secret, people don’t like ads. Recent data indicates ads have a user clickthrough of only 0.17%! That’s less than 2 people per 1000 impressions. So how do we make them better? Ads can be effective. Marketing strategy and proper execution are vital to distancing yourself from industry standards.
The digital world is moving towards being fully personalized for its users. One way to improve conversion is through dynamic banners. Statistically they have a 2 – 4x higher click through than a traditional unit.
When coming up with your creative concepts, keep the following in mind:
1. Banner ads should be compelling, they should catch your eye with attractive animation, use of typography, colors and clear copy to make them stand apart.
2. A user’s attention to a banner will be brief. You have only a moment to catch their attention so make sure your message is concise.
3. Clarity is the key. Make sure your message is to the point and simple. Avoid promoting too many products or ideas.
Optimizing your banner process will be the difference between silky smooth production and a hellish inferno of banner rage.
Here’s a quick checklist of items the developer will need
Working files (photoshop / illustrator / inDesign)
Logo Assets (vector if possible)
Click-through URL (Wheres your banner clicking out to?)
Build with clean code!
There are a lot of tools out there to help build banners like Google Web Designer, Adobe Edge etc. At the end of the day though the best banners are hand-coded. The ad landscape is too vast for any one-stop tool to work well with all publishers, ad servers etc. What might seem like a time-save at the beginning has the risk to come back and haunt you when your banners aren’t compatible and need to be re-built. Coding from scratch offers the biggest creative flexibility for your clients, build clean!
Approve ONE banner
One of the best practices we recommend is to build a single size of a unit and then have that unit approved by all parties. Re-visiting multiple creatives with revisions later can be time consuming. By having creative direction locked on a single unit makes the entire process much easier down the road.
Specify Where to Test Your First Banner
The same applies to QA. For the approval process we advise that the browser, browser version and device are agreed upon before getting started. By being clear on what the specs are on the first banner helps speed up the approval process. A full QA should typically occur towards the end of the process before delivery.
Clean & Prepared Assets
Make sure the designer creating the banner assets delivers them in photoshop or illustrator. All files should be properly layered & named. Our personal favorite are ‘layer comps’ as a way to organize your PSD for the animation sequence.
Ad banners have always and will continue to maintain a large presence in the digital world. Thanks to the continuous technical pushes in the realm of code they have the ability to be even more effective for your user engagement. Using clean code, creativity, strategy and applying best practice during the development process, banners can be less of a headache and drive more positive results for you and your clients. Happy coding!