Banner Ads Must Die!!!
First the Corporate Website is Dead and now something else?
Yep. Earlier this week I was asked for my view on which marketing tactic is like “The Walking Dead” of marketing.
I was honored to be included on the list of contributors along with amazing thought leaders in marketing like Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Doug Kessler, Neil Patel and more.
They suggested some outdated marketing tactics including over-promotion, quantity over quality and a lack of courage. And those are all good ones.
My advice of which marketing tactic was like the walking dead: banner ads!!!
Banners. Must. Die!!!
Why it needs to die: They simply don’t work. Your customers ignore them. Your future customers might even hate you for interrupting their content experiences. The only reason spending on banner advertising is not dying faster is because marketers are shifting money from traditional marketing (print, radio, TV) to digital formats. But click through rates on banners are less than .1% (0.08% is the average) in most industries. Eye-tracking studies show that everyone ignores them so even for branding and awareness, this tactic is hard to justify.
What marketers should do, instead: Marketers need to shift their banner ad investments into brand content marketing experiences. Why interrupt what your customers want, when you can be what your customers want?
Consider the stats:
- You are 31 times more likely to win the lottery than to have someone click on your banner ad (Business Insider).
- You are 112 times more likely to complete US Navy Seal training than to have someone click on your banner ad (Business Insider).
- You are 475 times more likely to survive a plan crash than to have someone click on your banner ad (Business Insider).
- Around 31% of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)
- 8% of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)
- 50% of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)
- Kraft rejects 75% to 85% of ad impressions due to fraud, quality and other issues (AdAge)
So while banner advertising still represents about 19% of online advertising, and that figure grew in dollar terms from the prior year, the share of banner advertising is slipping (down from 21% the year before.)
I believe there’s still hope that we will abandon this zombie marketing tactic. What about you?
Update (October 31, 2014): Hubspot launched this cheeky Chrome extension to replace your banner ads with pictures of baby animals! Brilliant work. Also, more seriously, AdAge reported yesterday that 23% of ads bought on automated exchanges are served to mis-represented urls. This so-called “url masking” is another type of fraud “plaguing automated ad buying marketplaces” said reporter Alex Kantrowitz.
Update (November 7, 2014): The New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo is piling on with his “Fall Of The Banner Ad: The Monster Who Ate The Web” written on November 5th. And in the spirit of equal time, I was pointed to this Defense Of Banner Ads which argues that banner’s awful response rate is as good or better than TV, radio and Billboards. My favorite quote: “advertising ROI is defined by what we catch, not what we spill.”
Update (November 10, 2014): First, in doing a Google search, I found this great article on The Street that does a great job of supporting the same arguments I made. And then today, Tom Goosmann wrote an article “In Defense of Banner Ads” on AdAge. Tom’s main point is that his data shows they work. He didn’t reveal the data, or refute anyone else’s data with any facts. He mentioned “complex analytics” and also that when they stopped using banners, his client’s traffic plummets. Says the ad man. Who makes banner ads.
I think I’ll agree with Lincoln Millstein, the SVP at Hearst, the guy who created Boston.com and helped remake the NYTimes.com. He calls banner ads “the worst performing ad vehicle ever.” He continues to predict that “the smart money will go to create great stories on the Internet, using social and compelling video.”
Let me know what you think in the comments below.