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The death of digital banner advertising

Posted by Sheera Eby on March 25, 2014

It’s almost hard to remember the day when digital marketing just began to get traction. Think back to ten or fifteen years ago. What digital lead generation techniques did companies use to bring users to their websites and attract customers? In many cases, banner advertising seemed like one of the only options to drive new web traffic digitally.



However, today there are many other ways a business can obtain web traffic: content marketing, search marketing, pay-per-click and social media. Does banner advertising have a place in digital marketing today? The likely answer is yes it does, but a smaller one than many people realize.

So what are the reasons why digital banner advertising is all but dead? This article will explore why banner advertising might not be the optimal lead generation technique, and will offer alternative digital marketing channels to consider.



Users refer to banner advertising as “annoying.”

At first, banner advertising was very simple. Banner ads highlighted a simple image, a name or logo. When a banner was clicked, it directed the user to the desired web page. As a lead generation technique it seemed easy and straightforward. Much of this was simply due to technology constraints at the time. However, over time the banner ads became more complex. There were pop-up ads, blinking ads and ads that proclaimed the user had “won a contest.” These ads tend to be perceived by users as “a very annoying form of digital marketing.” According to a 2012 Tech Crunch article, “annoying” and “distracting” are the two most common words used when describing banner advertising.



Banner ad performance drops with click-through rates only around 0.1%.

Banners ads became one of marketers’ go-to channels over the last decade. As with many things, banner ads saw their day, and then might have become oversaturated. Fast forward to today, and it turns out that users click banner ads very infrequently. HubSpot reported a statistic from Doubleclick that states “the average click-through rate of display ads is 0.1%.” As with many channels, a company is often required to pay-per-impression, not based on performance, such as pay-per-click. Therefore, paying for all these displays, or impressions, without a definitive return on investment, can put a lot of unknowns in a marketer’s digital marketing budget.



Are banner ads a more effective advertising channel versus response channel?

So if banner ads are more effective at generating impressions, does that mean that they are a more effective advertising and awareness channel than a lead generation technique? ComScore reports that the average Internet user is served around 1,700 banner ads per month. However, how many people remember any of these ads after they close the internet browser? Unlike TV commercials, banner ads simply don’t appear to have the same impact or recall. As a lead generation technique, that presents a big problem. The advertising methods that have the most impact are the ones that are remembered for hours or even days after the fact.


Furthermore, mobile usage further reinforces that banner ads might not be the most effective lead generation technique. Mobile internet use is at an all-time high. SmartInsight reports that around 25% of internet browsing is now done on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. As ineffective as banner ads are as a lead generation technique on a regular browser, they are even less effective on these devices. Banner ads can be difficult to click when the visitor wants to click on it, and many clicks occur by accident.



Why content marketing drives more effective traffic.

Banner ads do work in some cases. As a matter of fact, I’m a huge fan of retargeted banner ads. Retargeted banner ads are a favorite because they are behaviorally driven. They target those who have already indicated an interest in a product or service. General banner ads can also be a positive performer in certain cases, but nothing beats behaviorally targeting those who have already demonstrated an interest or propensity to purchase your products or services.


I’d argue, however, that content marketing is a more effective lead generation technique than banner ads. Content marketing is more effective at bringing traffic that has a higher likelihood of converting to a lead. Content marketing does this by attracting users who are searching for information or searching for an answer to a problem. These users are looking to solve a problem, and therefore have a predisposition to purchase a product, request more information or subscribe to a service.


Content marketing continues to gain ground as an effective lead generation technique. HubSpot reports that 43% of companies using inbound marketing have found a customer. Content or inbound marketing are one of the most effective digital lead generation techniques.


As you can see, banner ads simply are not the most effective lead generation technique in today’s world. There are better choices for digital lead generation techniques, in particular content marketing. To learn more about how to use content marketing for lead generation, sign up for your personalized content marketing course with J&C.


Topics: Direct Marketing

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