In another one of my quick and hopelessly unrepresentative surveys, I asked a few companies (who I happened to be talking to anyway) if they were advertising on third-party websites with banner ads. About a third were. However, nowadays we’re helping out about 50 companies with their online marketing, and I struggle to find any evidence in anyone’s website analytics that banner ads booked directly with a site for a cost of a few hundred pounds a year are bringing in any serious traffic whatsoever.
There are two explanations for this. The first is that indeed, the banner ads aren’t bringing them in any traffic whatsoever. The second is that the traffic is somehow disappearing in the data, although I’m not sure how.
The important thing is that if you are running banner ads anywhere, you look at the results. If you run Google Analytics and you don’t have the time – or inclination – to study your own analytics (or if you think I could bring a fresh eye to things), drop me an email and I’ll take a look and write you a report, no charge. I’m glad to say that all of our clients get great monthly reports showing where all their website traffic came from, and what’s more, how much of it was “quality” traffic.
Most third-party sites in the trade and technical sector prey on advertisers’ ignorance and still sell banners for fixed rates, which are supposed to represent the number of times the ad will be shown. For branding, that’s fair enough, although few advertisers then go on to actually count how many times the ad is shown. But for response, that’s just unacceptable.
Hundreds of thousands of websites worldwide have turned over some or all of their advertising space to Google to run. You book this by using the “Display Network” element of Google AdWords. And with the Google Display Network, you only pay when somebody clicks through from the banner advert to your website. This is the way banner adverts should work. There’s no way, in 2013, that websites should be allowed to charge fixed rates for appearing. You should pay for results, and if the results aren’t there, take your business elsewhere.