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Advertising banners are graphical adverts that you can display on your own or other people’s websites (you usually have to pay other websites if you want them to display your banners). Some people may tell you things like “banners are dead”, and while it is true that average response rates to banners have fallen over the last few years, this is very much an exaggeration - there are still lots of opportunities for profitable banner advertising campaigns.
The first issue that you want to consider before embarking on a banner advertising campaign is what your objectives are. Some people claim that a benefit of banner advertising is “branding” - even people who don’t click your ad, will still see your banner, and may remember your brand. There probably are cases where banner branding works, but generally speaking, I am skeptical of these types of claims - I’ve must have seen thousands (possibly millions?) over the last 16 or 17 years of using the Internet, but I can’t personally remember more than a handful.
Your mileage and opinion may of course differ from mine, but generally speaking, I think for small business at least, the main goal of banner advertising campaigns should be to generate more traffic and/or sales to your website. You need to factor that in when designing your banners and creating your banner advertising campaigns, for example by:
- By creating banners that look like they are supposed to be clicked (sometimes banners just look like graphical elements, and people don’t even realize they are supposed to be clicked).
- By testing different types of banner design to see which gets the best response.
- By placing your banners on sites which relate to your own intended audience.
If you have an unlimited budget, you can simply pay a graphics professional to design a banner for you. Do bear in mind that the designer should be working to your requirements, rather than just producing nice-looking images! Moreover, you will need to pay for many different banner designs, so you can test and find the ones that produce the best results in terms of traffic, sales and profits.
For the rest of us, we probably need a solution which produces good results, but without the expense. What are the options?
- You can use a general purpose painting/graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro, or Corel PhotoPaint. Of course, producing good results with these programs may require quite a bit of time and skill.
- Rather than starting from scratching in a painting/graphics program, you can use templates to get you started. This is definitely a time-saver, and allows a non-expert to produce good results quickly. Check out Easy Banner Maker which works with Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
- You can buy a program specifically intended for creating banners. You not need Adobe Photoshop or any other graphics program to use these, and you do not even need any real graphics skills. The main options are Banner Generator Pro and Easy Banner Creator. The latter, Easy Banner Creator, looks like it has a few more options than the other one, but they both look like decent programs.