Your banner ads comply with your brand's style guide. They're consistent with your other marketing materials. They feature a strong call to action and functionality that's intuitive to the consumer.
So why aren't people clicking?
Online banners - regardless of their size, shape, or format - are held to a high standard by Internet users. Consumers know what they like, and what they loathe. In fact, they're experts on the subject (a massive daily dose of just about anything will do that to a person).
This attitude compels digital marketers to keep their creative fresh, but it isn't always fresh enough. It doesn't always leave site users nodding their heads in appreciation or thinking, "Now that's a useful ad." What follows are five ways to enhance your existing and upcoming banner ads to stimulate clicks, shares, and buys.
1. Track mouse movements. Internet users may feel that they've seen it all in rich media advertising, but several jaw-dropping technologies are still relatively underutilized. One such technology is mouse tracking. Some brands allow mouse movements to alter the look of their banners (a concept so hip even Google is using it). Others take the more traditional route by inviting users to hover over in-banner hot spots.
One ad for Royal Caribbean created by MediaMind (formerly Eyeblaster) combined mouse tracking technology with an expandable banner in an IAB Sidekick format. In it, the user could hover over hot spots throughout an image of one of the company's cruise ships to reveal information about special services and features, and click to get even more detail…all without leaving the site page.
2. Add a map. When your objective is to drive consumers to your offline stores, few strategies are more effective than a mapping tool. Naturally interactive map features are the bread and butter of mobile ads but they have a place on the web, too. To generate offline sales, companies like Spongecell incorporate "Smart Mapping" functionality into their clients' ads, using Zip codes and Google Maps technology to create a custom map of nearby stores.
In a recent banner for Arby's Restaurants and the Ultimate Angus Philly sandwich, users were able to drill down to the store address and even get directions. The functionality was useful, yes, but best of all it was in keeping with the campaign theme of giving consumers "the best Philly outside of Philly."
3. Add a calendar tool. Today's consumers lead busy lives, so an advertising strategy that makes sticking to the schedule a littler easier is sure to be embraced. Enter the banner that links a branded event to an online calendar. When this functionality is incorporated into an online ad, consumers can add an event to their Google Calendar with one click. This is ideal for entertainment companies promoting a new series or the new season of an existing program, but can work just as well to announce a product launch or the start date of a branded contest.
4. Use dynamic creative. Customized messaging is a hot trend, with particular attention being placed on data-driven display ads. Included in Forbes Magazine's "12 Predictions for 2012," these encompass ads that use the consumer's IP address to pull relevant data about the user's location, shopping history, and browsing behavior, all in real time. A creative template is combined with offers and messaging options that companies like AudienceScience mix and match to create highly relevant banners. This technique is proving popular among airlines, which use it to supply city-specific quotes based on a consumer's location.
5. Integrate social media. Combining a banner ad with a Twitter feed was a novelty when Volvo did it to generate interest in its new crossover vehicle and draw attention to its presence at the New York Auto Show. That was two years ago, and this method of enhancing a run-of-the-mill ad has yet to take off. But it should, and it will, just as soon as brands acknowledge the importance of cross-media marketing online. If you're lucky enough to attract an eyeball, why not make the most of the opportunity by showing your potential customer everything you've got? Go beyond the standard links to Facebook and Twitter and integrate social media in a way that adds value by adding content.
Every banner holds a well of potential that practical (and memorable) functionality can tap. Make your campaigns, and thus your brand, more valuable to your customers by enhancing your ads.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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