Banner ads are all over the web—and it’s very likely you’ll write them at some point in your career. And there are some great ones…but there are definitely some bad ones. Let’s explore what makes a banner ad especially bad. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Alexei S., who asks, “It seems like a lot of the banner ads I see aren’t very effective. Why is that?”
A banner ad is an especially challenging kind of project for which to write. At best, you’ll have three frames of cycling space in which to cram your message; at worst, you have one itty bitty piece of real estate.
Many copywriters have a hard time dealing with that forced brevity. That usually leads to one of two mistakes:
First, many copywriters try to cram everything they can possibly say in their banner ad, leading to way more copy on a banner ad than there should be. Banner ads go by quickly, and their messages need to be as simple as possible.
But simplicity can be a problem, too, and leads to the second problem: Some writers make their message so simple, that they get rid of any kind of context at all. For example, I came across a banner that simply said, “The best storage solution, anywhere” and the company logo, with which I was unfamiliar.
Sure, it’s short…but what does it mean??? Storage of what? And what makes it the best? Huh?
Another common mistake comes into play with multi-frame banner ads. These ads usually cycle through three frames and then, after cycling through once or twice, stay on the last frame.
The problem is that people often miss the previous frames. That means that if you don’t have pertinent information on that last slide, the viewer misses the crux of your message.
In a banner ad, too, it’s particularly easy to miss one key element of effective copy: The CTA. Just because you need to keep your copy brief, doesn’t mean you can skip a call to action. Even if you feel like it’s obvious that the viewer should click, it’s still important to include a clear call to action.
Time and time again, it’s been proven that including a call to action improves click-through rates.
So, those are the mistakes—let’s flip those around into a banner ad To Do list, shall we? When writing banner ads be sure to:
– Keep your copy short and to-the-point
– Provide all necessary context for your message
– Put key information on the last slide of a rotating-slide banner
– Always include a CTA
Your turn! Have you seen any banner ads that were especially bad? Or good? Let us know in the comments below!