Online Advertising Glossary: Small Ad Units

This week the quest for clarity continues, taking us to an exploration of logos, tiles, trademarks and the like. These small placements on a site (often featuring little more than an advertisers logo, tagline or package picture) are ad placements; that is if you accept our definition that an advertisement is any paid commercial message intended to influence the behavior of an audience.

Tiles and logo units can be rotating or static. A different creative unit can appear to different site visitors, or the creative unit can be hard-wired into the design of the web page. When the ad unit rotates, it is served by the same sort of ad server that manages all other banner ads; its the static placements that are sometimes mistakenly considered to be something other than advertising.

Though it is all advertising, these messages are often deployed differently from a more traditional 468×60 banner ad, because the real estate is so limited. No chance to tell a complex story here, or to do much messaging at all. Many of these smaller “postage stamp” or logo box treatments allow nothing but a picture of a familiar box or package, or a well-known logo or tagline. It is meant to remind, to trigger a subtle reaction, or to connect the advertiser with the editorial or content for a positive association. Though there are always exceptions, these small ads are not generally expected to generate large numbers of click-throughs.

For marketers who think of online as a direct response medium, this is a foreign concept, and many have trouble reconciling ad expenditures with these small and unobtrusive units. But step outside of the Internet box, and youll recall that logo ads have a rich history in other marketing media the soft drink signage on a football scoreboard, the corporate logo on highway signs (This section of road kept clean by….), notepad and pens sponsored by marketers at conferences, carryall bags at trade shows… There are dozens of examples of ad placements designed simply to put a logo in front of a prospect.

As a stand-alone approach, the logo route doesnt make much sense. As part of a larger marketing program (one in which the broad display of logos reinforces messages shown elsewhere in commercials, print ads, banner ads and direct marketing) it can be very effective. Remind the prospect of your more information-rich messages with just the sight of your logo, and all your advertising spending goes further. These small ads on web sites tend to cost less than their larger banner brethren, and savvy marketers use them to stretch budgets further.

Depending upon the overall objectives of your ad program, and your ability to integrate many medium and unit types to achieve those goals, the small logo ad can be a very wise investment in branding and awareness-if it can be placed before the right audience.

Of course, if your only objective is clicks or conversions, we cant really recommend these subtle and message-light ad units. As in every other marketing decision, the value of the buy is directly related to what you hope to achieve.

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