Every type of advertising has its own unique use and value — including online advertising. Maximizing the value of online placed advertising should be a key part of your advertising strategy. But you have to look beyond the clicks and concentrate on the overall impact that content can have on your audience. By crafting a whole experience incorporating banner ads, you will get far more return on your ad buy.

CTRs Suck

Click-Through Rates (CTRs) today are less than impressive, to say the least. According to multiple sources1,2, average CTRs for online ads (particularly banner ads) are between 0.2% and 0.5%, meaning for every 1,000 times that the ad is shown, only 2-5 people are actually clicking on that ad. People have practically trained themselves to either ignore advertisements or avoid engagement or interaction with them, almost to the point of conditioning.

Banner ads and the like are not going to garner significant quantities of clicks and purchases, rather such ads are good for building brand awareness. Therein lies the value, and here are five ways to maximize their effectiveness.

1. Think like your audience

Users visit particular sites for a specific reason, so any ads you pay to place on that site should be there for a similar specific reason. Target quality audiences based on goals; who is exposed to the ad is more important that the CTR.

Remember that the potential customers are as multidimensional as your advertising should be, and they can be more susceptible to convincing in certain places than they are in others. Define your target audiences, then define where people go when they are members of that audience.

Make sure the content you put into your ad flows seamlessly from the content of the site.

2. Benefit from association

Many websites now offer content integration in addition to their more traditional ad space sales. By investing in or sponsoring content on a page, you greatly increase the synergy between the advertisement and the content, improving the efficacy of the ad without being intrusive.

3. Don’t annoy people

Overly intrusive advertising can cause backlash by irritating potential customers. There should be a clear line between useful advertising content and harassing ads that take over the screen.

Take advantage of sites that offer run-of-site or run-of-community opportunities; this will allow your content to run without competition from other ads on the page and without intruding on the user and wasting their time.

4. Don’t overpay

When the goal is to build brand awareness, it’s important that the brand you are building awareness for is strong. Use consistent creative to shape a well-defined identity — this is central to making a brand recognizable.

Gone are the days when a 5% CTR was realistic for a banner ad. Seek out good prices or favorable location placement if you are going to be charged CPM, and don’t rely solely on placed ads as a promotional campaign.

5. Think big picture to make a bigger impression

Online advertising of this type can reflect back on real world similarities. Tippingpoint Labs Chief Strategy Officer, Andrew Davis, provides the example of Boston subways (the T). Inside the trains and out, ads are placed in certain designated places. When there’s a scattering of different ads, they’re easy to ignore. But when a company buys an entire train’s ad space, it makes a bigger impact in the same place.


The goal should not be for random impressions here and there, but rather using your impressions to make an impression, and to make potential customers familiar with and aware of your client’s brand.

How much is a click worth to you?