The Banner is Dead

Over the last week I was part of a spirited private debate about the death of banners and display advertising. Peter Figueredo even posted on this subject while I was composing this. It was all sparked by Procter & Gamble’s GM for interactive marketing and innovation, Ted McConnell saying “I really don’t want to buy any more banner ads on Facebook.” With CTRs around 0.35% and eCPM rates dropping like a rock, what are publishers to do?

Let’s look at the issues. First, headlines are there to get people to read more. Did mine “get” you? Second, journalists may even have a slant that they want to get across. Third (and I’ll stop numbering), people may be looking at a piece of the animal and not stepping back to see that it might make sense. eMarketer recently published some stats on display ads that note while they still can’t measure many of the ads on social media sites, Facebook has already claimed a 1.1% share of display ad views. This is sure to increase as they find ways to measure new concepts such as Facebook’s Engagement Ads.

Friend, Jaffer Ali, does a guest post for Jack Meyers where he asks Has Online Advertising Lost Its “Schwerpunkt”? You really should read this whole article closely as it is pretty complex. I think I read it three times. He starts with an analogy, but moves into a generic “Online Advertising”discussion where he posits that we are allowing technology to drive too much and losing the relationships and creativity that are needed to really move forward and get into what is coming next. I may not fully agree with him, but there are places where he makes perfect sense. Coming from the performance marketing side, we never really did watch CTRs.

Dave Morgan has his version of this in MediaPost where he asks, Whither The Banner? Again, Dave is someone who knows this space better than most. I guess where I disagree with his assessment is that “banner” is pretty generic and can mean different things. To me, “banner” is everything display and all sizes and formats. Dave talks about Web video and Rich Media as separate entities from the banner. I really don’t differentiate between a basic static banner and an expandable banner that shows a movie preview or allows interaction with the user. These are just evolutionary aspects of the same banner that went from static images, to animated GIFs, to Flash, etc. I’m not arguing that banners (my definition) will be here and strong forever. But I do think that they have quite a bit more staying power than they are being given credit for. Read the comments on this one as well, because you will see some great minds who also read this and left their thoughts.

Not to be left out, David Koretz’s MediaPost headline, Display Advertising Needs To Die, is a bit more inflammatory. I have zero experience in Brand advertising personally, but I have learned a bit about it through conferences and dealings with others who have made this their area of expertise.I think I do agree with what he is trying to say as the underlying message, but this does not meant that the other side of the coin can’t be the same thing. His point is that building a brand should not be the goal of advertising, instead it should be building (measurable) sales. David is arguing for the CPA model quite strongly, and for that I am quite happy. It is very nice to see CPA move into the mainstream and even be used as an argument against display advertising. I do think that there is room for both brand and the more direct transactional related ads. The entire TV model (other than late night direct response and QVC type channels) is based on influence advertising. I don’t see that going away too soon. Though I would not mind seeing a few percent of it moving to online affiliate (CPA) sales.

AdWeek jumps on the bandwagon with their version, Is the End Near for Display Ads? My beef with this article is that again, there is no reason that measurable cost per action advertising needs to be excluded from the broad category of Display. Citing sources such as Young-Bean Song and David Hallerman, it is hard to knock the data and research talked about in the story. It is the curse we caused ourselves by touting the measurability of online. By telling people how much better online is because we can measure just about everything, advertising runs into problems when we then go off and try to tell them how online is influencing offline behavior. This article does moderate the tone a bit noting that “the Web is miles ahead of print and TV when it comes to proving its worth.”

UPDATE: Another esteemed colleague, Eric “Pardon My” French responds to the AdWeek article.

It’s not like we haven’t seen this before.

About Brad Waller

Some say Brad created the first affiliate program. We’ll never know for sure, but we do know that Brad has been running businesses online since 1994 and affiliate programs since 1996. When he is not running the affiliate program for EPage Classifieds, helping publishers monetize their sites with AdJungle, or working on iPhone applications, Brad is also busy starting up the Performance Marketing Alliance, a trade association created to represent and build the entire performance based industry.

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5 Responses to The Banner is Dead

  1. Jason Geater says:

    Banners, billboards, non-DM TV, etc. have been, and will always be around until the end of time. Different advertisers have different goals, and CPA does not fit all.

    Plus, how do you begin to measure the brand equity premium that companies like Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton, Apple, etc. created through mass-media, broadcast advertising?

    If you are Rolex sponsoring F1 timing (or Omega with the Olympics) – how do you measure that impact? Certainly, that medium of advertising isn't worthless and impossible to "measure" accurately.

    In regards to SEM – without awareness of a product/service/brand, you'll have no one searching for it. If you have no one searching for it, you can't measure it.

    Non-CPA advertising will always exist in one form or another.

  2. Thanks for the link love and well written article.


  3. TrishaLyn says:

    […] ad in online marketing.  Brad Waller and Peter Figueredo both discussed it over at ReveNews: The Banner is Dead by Brad Waller and Is Display Advertising Worthwhile in a Down Economy? by Peter […]

  4. Brad, banner ads are not dead 😉 It is still alive! I use Google adwords & banner ads is always my favorite because I’m in a Gaming niche. I target gaming audience with attractive banner ads. My past one year report shows CTR is high for banners and converting well when compared to text ads