If you're considering using banners and just embarking on the design stage, bear in mind a few simple points, and you'll be well on your way to a successful campaign.
It's also important to remember that banners now come in a range of sizes, but there are certain standard sizes that most networks and webmasters will only deal with. A listing of those is also available in this article.
Banner design tips:
1. Banner file sizes
You can have the best looking banner in the world, but if it's too "heavy", nobody is going to hang around to watch it load. Try to keep it to around 25kb, but less is better. Ensure that you put a file size cap on your design specs if you are getting someone else to design banners for you. It's been my experience that there are thousands of great graphic designers out there, but few who understand that this aspect of banner development is a critical element.
2. Flash banners
Very pretty indeed - but effective? Probably not - in my experience anyway. I guess it boils down to your target audience. If your target is the "young, hip and happening" sector and you are promoting entertainment related products, then perhaps the complex animations that Flash offers may be useful, but as a general rule, steer clear of Flash generated banner designs. The other reason I suggest avoiding Flash banners is they can be rather kilobyte heavy and some sites aren't able to run them.
3. Call to action
Don't underestimate the power of a "Click now!" statements. Calls to action are a very important psychological tactic in getting people to click on your banners. Terms like "Offer ends soon!", "Hurry!", "Special limited offer!" also work well
4. Keep your banner design simple
You have very little time to convince people to click on your banner, so the more complex it is in terms of text and general design, the less chance of people clicking - make your point, make it quickly.
5. Use animation
Animation in my opinion is an absolute must. Bear in mind that your banner will be competing with other elements on the sites where it is displayed. Also use animation wisely; it should attract attention, not induce epileptic fits ;). Keep it simple.
6. Consider "alert" banner designs
We've all seen them; those banners that look like a standard Windows alert. Do they work? Yes, most definitely. I've seen clickthrough rates of up to 24% on these kinds of banners - and considering the "standard" click rate is around .5 - 1.5% across the board, this is excellent. There is a big *but* with using these kinds of banners -they are only highly effective to a relatively non-savvy audience and should only be used for promoting products that have a very broad appeal. Niche products should be promoted using relevant text or graphics.
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