[Beginner – 101] Banner Advertising: What Types of Banner Ads Exist?

Banner ads are one of the most popular tools used by businesses and provide a huge range of benefits for companies big and small.

Banner advertising creates business and brand visibility, builds brand recognition, attracts users, and provides easily measured results.

For business marketers that are considering implementing a banner ad campaign, here is a look at the different types of banner ads that exist, and the advantages/disadvantages of each:

Flash Banners

Using Adobe flash technology, a flash banner creates a banner that is animated, usually in a complex way.

For example, a flash banner might be a short movie, and often will use sound or be interactive – they respond to what the customer is doing. If the customer moves the mouse to a different part of the page, the banner may react appropriately.

A flash banner may start with a single image or background, and then changes to something else entirely.

For example, this banner starts like this:

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and then transitions to this:

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Flash banners have a lot of advantages: first of all, the fact that they move and often have sound makes them attractive, and immediately draws the user’s attention.

The fact that they’re often interactive, too, means that the user is engaged in a unique way. Often times, flash banners are also entertaining, and highly enjoyable for the user.

The downsides to flash banners, though, is that they don’t work without Adobe flash player is installed, that they can make a website run more slowly.

*Update – Google officially killed Flash advertising in its browser*

They can also be annoying or overwhelming to the user, creating banner blindness, and are often more expensive to design for a business.

Animated GIF Banners

GIF is a format for image files, and a GIF banner is an animated (or static) creation that contains image or text that’s formatted in GIF.

One huge benefit – and major difference – between animated GIF and flash banners is that GIF banners don’t require any plugins to be viewed, whereas flash banners require an Adobe flash player (note update above).

Other advantages of animated GIF banners include their ability to work on mobile devices, an increasingly important element in an industry rapidly moving towards a mobile first approach to online marketing.

They’re much easier to design than flash banners, have a very small file size (so they won’t slow down the load time of a page), and can contain multiple animations and slides.

Some disadvantages when compared with flash banners include a GIF banners lack of interactivity.

The user experience is often compromised, and lack of user engagement can make flash banners the preferred choice for many business marketers.

Static Banners

Static banners are exactly what they sound like – banners that don’t move, or that are enclosed in still, single frames. Often times, a static banner might have a small component of animation, such as blinking or color-changing text, but the frame doesn’t change – i.e., the image never changes from one to the next like a slide show, as it does in both flash and animated GIF banners. Static banners get to the point quickly. For example, this Best Buy static banner tells you exactly what you need to know:

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While static banners aren’t interactive or terribly engaging, they do have their perks.

They’re often much less intrusive and annoying to a user, which can be more attractive to many. Additionally, they do make a very straightforward point, providing the user with exactly what they need to know; they are no gimmicks or ambiguity with static banners.

Static banners are also much less expensive, and easier to design, than flash or animated GIF banners. For businesses that are just barely starting up a banner ad campaign, static banners are a conservative and safe bet, cost effective and low-risk.

The three types of banner ads listed above and by far the most prevalent – Flash, animated GIF, and static banners dominate the online world.

In addition to the three primary types of banner ads, there are also different layouts, formats, and presentation styles that a banner may be displayed in. Banners can be rotating scrolling, floating, and more.

In rotating banner ads, the banner type of choice will rotate between different pages on a website. Rotations usually happen every 15 to 30 seconds and allow a publisher to increase their number of impressions.

These can be advantageous, as the customer will get a unique page each time, often viewing a number of different ads while staying in the same location.

Scrolling banner ads are similar, and most people have experienced them online. In a scrolling banner ad, the ad changes from company to company, much as a modern day scrolling billboard does.

Floating banners are also quite common, and they can be both advantageous and disadvantageous for a publisher. A floating banner ad is one that pops up as soon as the user enters the page, and then “floats” around the screen for a bit. While they can definitely draw the user’s attention, they can also be intrusive and annoying.

Examples of Creative Banner Types and Ads

Some of the best banner ads out there are ones that use flash technology – after all, flash banners are the most interactive and engaging.

Here are a couple top picks in creative banner ads – make sure you have a flash player installed for viewing:

Volkswagen’s Like a Rabbit Ad: The Volkswagen Like a Rabbit Ad allowed users to submit their own verb in the sentence, “_____ like a rabbit.” After entering a verb, the “Rabbit” would perform the verb.

The ad is light and humorous, adding some entertainment to a highly engaging audience.

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Quit Victoria – Emphysema ad: Users are asked to turn up their volume and experience what it’s like to have emphysema. Not only is the ad very engaging, but it is also highly informative and educational too, not to mention effective – the test definitely presents emphysema as a condition that one would want to avoid.

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A great banner ad will provide the user with engaging and relevant information, and inspire them to actually click on the ad, participating in your desired call to action. Banner ads, when done right, can be a worthwhile investment for business marketers and can attract the attention that your brand has been looking for.

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