The Banner Moves On… and The Magnificent Seven!

Last week I took an impromptu survey of some media-buying friends of mine and we all came to a singular conclusion; that the “traditional” banner is gone!

Banners have been relegated to the world of added value and are no longer an element in the paid portion of our media campaigns. Sellers are throwing them in for free without even thinking and agencies are asking about other, more effective ad units. This is a step in the right direction, but what does it mean for online advertising?

Over the last few years we have heard many people preach endlessly about the death of the banner. The assumption was that the space of a 468x60 unit is unable to truly hold an advertisers’ message and convey a brand or inspire a reaction by the average Internet user. I was even one of the people that defended the poor little unit, saying we had not been truly using the space for what it was worth. Guess I was wrong!

From my point of view, and the point of view of a media buyer online, there are really only a few units that are worthwhile for advertisers, and these are being dubbed “The Magnificent Seven.” They are:



- Full screen ads (webmercials)
- Streaming video (commercials)
- Tandem units (usually a “banner” and “skyscraper” on the same page for 1 adview)
- LREC ad units (357x230)
- Skyscraper ads (120x600)
- Leaderboards (728x90)
- Text (6 lines, X characters per line)

These Seven formats are the ad sizes that seem to be garnering a reaction from the users, when they are implemented on an uncluttered, well laid-out page. The only problem is the sheer number of derivative sizes for these ad units. These are the elements of a campaign that are receiving media dollars while the traditional 468x60 unit is now being bonused to advertisers because no one wants to buy them (which brings up an entirely different issue of why bonus us something that doesn’t work?).

In examining two recent campaigns for clients I realized that we received approximately 40% of the impressions for our campaigns from 468x60 units while only 12% of the dollars went against them. They were almost entirely bonused, and the paid portion of these units consisted of inexpensive CPM or CPC inventory. The majority of our ad dollars went against the larger units and the performance was much stronger for them as well.

This does not get advertisers off the hook though. We still need to be creative and have strong messaging in these units in order for them to be effective or else we will see the same thing happen to these units. We also need to continue to stress to the publishers that a cluttered ad environment is detrimental to the effectiveness of our campaigns. Reduce the amount of ads and utilize more effective formats with more engaging creative and online advertising will again see the ad dollars be directed into the medium that will sustain our growth.

Cory Treffiletti is Media Director at Freestyle Interactive in San Francisco, CA.

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