Choosing an Online Banner Type, Size, and Position

By Jan Zimmerman

If you decide to use online banner ads in your web marketing campaign you need to decided what type and size ad to run. In general, bigger is better! Choose medium in-line rectangle, leaderboard, and wide skyscraper ads, in that order, if you can afford them. Advertisers favor larger options, with the single exception of medium rather than large rectangles.

The best positions for ads are on the right side by the scroll bar, as close as possible to the top of the page, and definitely above the fold. Rectangles integrated with page layout also work well. Avoid standard banner ads (468 x 60 pixels) at the top of a page — most viewers ignore them.

If you can’t afford big ads, take small ones that are better positioned. Ask about supplying an animated (rather than static) .gif ad. If a publisher’s ad server can handle small .gif or Flash ads, they attract more attention than large static ones. If an animated ad fits within the same file size as a static ad, you usually don’t pay more for it.

If you want to create several alternative offers but can’t afford to buy more than one position, ask whether you can supply several static ads to rotate in that position. Because you usually aren’t charged for this strategy, you can compare CTRs to assess the effectiveness of your ads.

In the following illustration, you can see related static ads of different sizes that were created by designer Vance Bell for a summer campaign by the Philadelphia Center City District.

Note the consistent use of the logo and the marketing tag “May life never lose its fizz.”
Credit: Courtesy of Vance Bell
Note the consistent use of the logo and the marketing tag “May life never lose its fizz.”

You can find free or low-cost software online for creating banners and animated ads. However, many of these ads look somewhat amateurish. If you’re spending a significant amount of money on advertising, invest the $80 to $100 per ad that’s necessary to hire a graphic designer.