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Handled correctly, online banner ads can bring significant revenue

Banner ads aren't dead, but when it comes to making money, they are definitely lazy. Improvement in such areas as sales training and tactics can wake them up and make them more effective.

1 January 2008 | Mike Blinder | Ideas Magazine | targeting other media

There has been much discussion lately on the "death of the online banner" as an effective advertising solution. This could not be farther from the truth.

Banner sales are alive and well, and it is being proved every day at media companies all over the world. For example, both Gannett and Freedom Communications have enjoyed healthy revenue (at higher "cost per thousand," or CPMs) by making banner sales part of their traditional offerings from ad salespeople. In short, online banners should be a primary focus for generating necessary revenue from your web site — if you do it right.

Here are several proven methods to market banners more effectively:

  • Build better ads. A bad ad is a bad ad, regardless of what medium it is delivered through. Make sure there is a credible, easy to grasp offer, along with some sense of urgency for the reader to act on the message. Plus, include enough information so the reader does not have to "click" it to act.
  • Change the ads frequently. Our experience shows that the average online banner will "die" after nine days of exposure, because of the loyalty of your online audience. A banner that remains online simply becomes "part of the wallpaper." Remember: If it goes stale, it will fail.
  • Offer creative solutions for the click. Our firm makes more than 4,000 local sales calls a year with media clients. Of those, we estimate that seven out of 10 advertisers don’t like their web sites (actually, they say "they are in re-development"). One way to get them to buy the banner is to provide some form of marketing platform for the "click," like an online version of their print ad or TV spot, or possibly a "business profile page."
  • Use the CPM model as your guide for pricing your inventory. When calling on smaller, less sophisticated advertisers, you don't have to mention the CPM of the banner campaign you are selling. But use CPM as an internal means for making sure you are getting the right price for your inventory. No less than 65 percent of your online banner inventory should be "sold out" at all times, at a minimum CPM of US$10.
  • Promote limited availability as a means to create urgency to "close." Newspapers are so used to adding pages to accommodate advertiser demand that they have problems promoting a lack of availability as a "closing tool." To increase banner sales, simply package your online inventory in individual programmes available to a finite number of advertisers. As positions within the programme begin to sell out, the urgency on the part of the advertiser to buy it obviously increases.
  • Train your salespeople and managers to sell and service the product properly. When in doubt, train. When really in doubt, train. When all else fails...train! Constantly train your salespeople on the value of online "eyeballs." Make sure to always stress the basics of what they offer: reach and frequency. Maintain a vigilant ongoing web training programme that keeps the benefits of those banners top-of-mind with your sales force. Remember: You don't sell inches - you rent eyeballs.

Author/Contact: Mike Blinder is president of The Blinder Group, a sales training firm with over 350 media clients worldwide. He can be contacted via e-mail at, on the web at, or via telephone at +1 917-865-4827.


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