Banner ads turned 20 years old this year. Instead of celebrating their existence on the web, however, the news has prompted many to declare them dead. If this is the case, will you be pleased to see the back of them, or have they played an important role for brands?
Recently, in his column in the New York Times, Farhad Manjoo was quick to put the knife into the humble banner ad, going as far as to call it “one of the most misguided and destructive technologies of the Internet age”.
Ironically, his piece, entitled “Fall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web”, sits alongside a web banner, which somewhat supports his claims that they only exist to pervert the content itself.
Manjoo´s article does appear to suffer as a result of having to jostle for position with the banner ad, rather than being able to stretch out across the page, which would likely make it a more enticing proposition for readers.
But, back to the article itself. Manjoo argues that the way in which we surf the web has changed to incorporate newer, more mobile devices, and there simply isn´t the space for banner ads any more.
He goes one step further: “Because they are so ineffective, banner ads are sold at low prices for high volume, which means to make any money from them, sites need to pull in major traffic.”
He also suggests this business model, which revolves around the sheer number of page views, is somewhat out of date. Instead, he says that customers now go in search of added value, which is why content marketing is a much more productive means of driving traffic to a website.
As Manjoo explains, high-quality, long-form content is not only far more effective than banner ads, it´s a lot less intrusive, too – something web users are much more concerned about these days, what with the worries surrounding privacy.
Not only that, a solid, organic content marketing strategy will promote a softer sell of your brands´ products and services, hopefully bringing with it more trusting and engaged customers. And with Facebook outlining how it plans to come down on those brands deploying overtly promotional content, that more nuanced approach is going to play an ever more important role.
It´s worth noticing, too, that display advertising click-through rates are at an all-time low of 0.1% on desktop, according to technology company Coull. Compare that with video, which stands at 4.25%, and you can only assume we´ve got a serious case of “banner blindness” on our hands.
Will banner ads figure in your marketing budget for next year? Is now the time to divert that spend towards content marketing?