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"About Banners on the Internet..." Tutorial

Banner Advertising on the Net'

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It's almost like a rite of passage on the Net'... as soon as you get serious about bring traffic to your web site, you think two thoughts: Search Engines and Banners.

Do banners really work? I keep hearing that banners don't work that well.Yeah, right. And California is going to fall into the sea... And Internet is just a fad... And alphabet is going to copyrighted and sold on Ebay. Banners will be on the Internet forever. It is currently a BILLION dollar industry. Banners don't work for the ill informed (I refrained from saying ‘stupid'). Banners don't work for those selling junk. A banner can bring plenty of traffic, but if the offer on the web site is not strong enough to motivate the visitor to buy, join or contact the web site own, then that is not the banners fault. A banner can bring traffic, but if the web site doesn't load properly for the visitor because the webmaster couldn't resist building a web site loaded with graphics, complicated java and javascript and redirects to "flash" pages, then that is not the banner's fault.

Those who build solid, interesting, fast loading and motivating web sites will love banner advertising. Make a banner that is solid, fast loading, interesting and motivating and all your advertising dollars will be well spent (as long as you work with ethical advertisers and free banner programs)

There is another reason banners are suppose to have "failed" and that has to do with greed. Early in the Internet's history, some not-so-Web-savy, greedy business people began making business models on banner advertising... as if selling banner space was going to make everyone rich. Wrong. Banner advertising became WAY over priced. When the reality of banner ad sales, and the TRUE value of banners began to emerge, there was panic in the Internet business world. The problem was never banners nor banner advertising. The problem was with greed and the unrealistic representation of what banners can do.

Banners are the Internet's billboards... only better. Imagine you are driving down the highway and you see a billboard for vacationing on Paradise Island. Imagine you could drive into the billboard and get an even richer experience of that vacation... all the details on how to get there and a ticket at the end. You then drive out of the billboard and you're on your way (until the next billboard of interest).

Put in this context, it is easy to create an effective banner that draws in visitors... a banner that entices them to enter the banner for "free" goodies, or solve a problem for them or promises (and delivers) something the visitor wants or needs. Even a very cool, "eye candy" banner can draw folks to see what you are up too at your web site. Banners could be the most fun and interesting thing going on the Internet if it weren't for greedy, manipulative practices using banners and web technology.

Building manipulative banners and web sites work.... once... and then ruin the banner industry for everyone. An example is creating a banner that says something like, " Warning, your computer is about to CRASH... Click Here". Newbies on the Net' freak, click on the banner and then find nothing but a sales pitch for some weird software that makes no sense to them. And, THEN, the webmaster of said site uses pop-up windows to confuse the poor soul further. To torture the poor visitor further, the webmaster uses web technology to keep launching more browser windows when the visitor tries to retreat of the sales pitch onslaught. You think that surfer is ever going to trust a banner again?...

Some webmasters try to argue that Net surfers, new or otherwise, should just stop whining about such tactics. It is just part of being on the Net' (the "and if ya' cannot hack it, you should never log on" mentality). Yeah, right... and I suppose you train your dog with a bull whip... and if your children don't learn to read fast enough you apply electric shock. The entire reason banners have become less effective has to do with these tactics. The sooner search engines, search directories and banner rotation programs begin to police and punish overly aggressive, manipulative practices, the sooner banner effectiveness will increase.

Fortunately, we more practical minded and good hearted folks will yet prevail. We will build our cool banners... we will make visiting our web site a pleasurable, rewarding experience... and we will educate our friends and relatives to do two things: 1) Never, ever buy anything from a web site that used deceptive, manipulative practices to get you to their web site... no matter how good the offer (most likely the offer is further deception anyway).

Banner can only do for you what banners can do... and that can be significant if you know what you are doing. The right banner, in the right banner exchange program... at the right time can do wonders. Banners are NOT the end-all, be-all advertising method. They are just one piece in a larger marketing plan. And a very important piece.

2) If you passed through a deceptive banner on a search engine, go back to the search engine and email them a brief complaint. Search engines will take action against any advertiser who ruin a surfers experience of their search engine.

Do you see so many types of banners that you are flat out confused? Yeah, it is all rather confusing. However, with just a little education, it will allllllllllllll make more sense.

There are "standard" banner sizes... sort of... The pioneers of banners and banner advertising started out with a 400 x 40 banner. Way back when, in the days there where only a few million web sites, Yahoo and Linkexchange (the original banner rotation program) were the only major players in the banner game... and they said the 400 x 40 banner was it.

Later, the 468 x 60 banner was adopted over the 400 x 40. Why? Because that's the size Yahoo and later Linkexchange wanted. The 468 x 60 remains the basic, standard banner size. Then, came the banner-button at 88 x 31... a small, usually bright and animated button. Now, the 100 x 100 and 125 x 125 banners are catching on. The truth be told... ad banners can be any size. It's just a matter of what the large, commercial sites want to accept on their site for ad banners.

If all these numbers like 468 x 60 confuse you... let us explain. The numerical values refer to pixels. For example, a 100 x 100 means 100 pixels long by 100 pixels wide. This determines the height and width of the banner.

The second factor to consider in a banner's size is the "weight" of the banner. A banner can be 10k or 50k or 100k in size. The "k" refers to the kilobytes... which grow up into megabytes which is how people usually understand the size of their hard drives. "Yeah, well, my computer has a 900 megabyte hard drive... " and yada, yada, yada. The "k" of the banner is how much room it takes on a hard drive. If this is too confusing for you, don't worry about it. Just think of it this way... the bigger the "k" of a banner, the longer it takes to load on a web page... which is why ALL banner rotation programs and commercial web sites that accept paid-for banner ads have a limit on how many "k" a banner can be.

The current majority of banner rotation programs only allow the 468 x 60 banner size... usually, requiring your banner to be no larger than about 15k.. ALWAYS check for the specific details at the site where your banner will be rotated before even building a banner.

There are a rising number of web sites that will exchange banner links with you, but only the 88 x 31 in size and generally no more than 12k. These are sometimes referred to as "button links". There are also a rising number of companies offering 88 x 31 affiliate linking buttons (since the 468 x 60 can take up too much room or take too long to load).

Whether you have a business or personal web site, it's a good idea to keep at least 3 banners on hand. A 468 x 60 banner... for general banner advertising. A 100 x 100 banner or a 125 x 125 banner (these are just beginning to become popular with both business, banner rotation programs and personal sites. And a 88 x 31 "button". It won't hurt to offer all 3 of these banners on a special web page about linking to your site. Who knows, if you make really cool banners and have an ultra cool web site, folks just may want to link up with you... and if they have a cool banner or button, too... gosh, it just gives goose bumps, all this sensitive linking stuff.

The question always comes up... what's the perfect banner? Well, there are banner nerds who will argue forever about what is the best "click-thru ratio" one can achieve (or expect) from banners. A click-thru is when a person clicks on a banner and goes thru to another web site. A click-thru ratio is the number of times your banner is displayed (the technical term is "impression") verses the number of times a banner is clicked on by a visitor. Example: If your banner is displayed 100 times and it gets 1 click-thru, then you have a 100:1 click thru ratio... am I starting to sound like a banner nerd, again? Jeez, it's tough sounding normal on the Net'.... as if ANYONE is normal on the Net'...

So, the long and short of it is, with any banner, you want the lowest possible click-thru ratio... I.E., a 1:1 ratio is the ultimate and the best anyone can achieve. The reality is, no one will ever achieve it, especially the long the banner runs in a rotation program.

Once you have used free banner programs for a while, it's likely you'll want to try buying banner impressions (remember, that is a fancy word for "displaying a banner on a page"). Generally, you'll be offered to buy in blocks of 1000 impressions. To confuse things further, they (banner tech nerds) call a block of 1000 impressions a "CPM". What amuses me is that NOBODY I have ever talked too can tell me what the letters CPM stand for... nobody... ever... inside or out of the banner industry, nobody seems to know. So, have some fun... ask when you buy CPMs what CPM means, besides 1000 impressions.

Prices can vary, depending on who you advertise with. The larger, more important the web site, the higher the price. Also, prices will vary with targeted or targeted advertising. Targeted advertising means a banner is displayed to a targeted audience. It is displayed to folks who are either searching a search engine for a specific word(s)... or is displayed only on web pages about a specific topic. Untargeted banner ads appear on any and all types of web pages. There is now a semi-targeted banner system... this system displays banners only in specific categories or directories about certain topics. Semi-targeted is also a method... it means you only pay for banner displays at web site about certain topics, and never use "general" web sites.

O.K., now, I've given you jusssssssssst enough information to be dangerous. But, you are now one hell of a lot more informed than I was when I first started. And, if you use this info wisely, you'll save yourself time and money... maybe you'll even make some money with banner ads. There are just two little things we should cover... my final pieces of gold to offer:
1) Never expect your banner to turn out exactly as you instruct a banner maker to make it. Even top graphic artist rarely create a banner that is exactly what they want. If the banner is very close to what you want, excellent, be happy with that and use it. This is not totally about art, it's about banner performance... and tweaking a few colors or the animation just won't make that much difference, if any. What matters is that the banner is fast loading and offers a compelling message to "click thru". This message on your banner can be in words (make those words easy to read) or in a visual image or both... but whatever it is, make it motivational.
2) The only perfect banner click-thru ratio (or however you want to rate banner performance) is the one that brings you the kind of traffic you want. If you are in business, a banner that brings you a 25:1 click-thru ratio of non-buyers is INFERIOR to a banner that brings you a 500:1 ratio, but every visitor buys something.

Well, congrad's for getting this far in this tutorial, I'm proud of ya'. Go get em' and good luck.


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