Why are so many people down on banner ads? Honestly, this is getting out of hand! I’ve heard people use language like "Banner Ads Suck" to blast into the effectiveness of Internet advertising. Others say it less blatantly, often while promoting their own alternative way to capture customers.

Now I’m not one who really enjoys advertising (web based or not), so let’s make that clear. Many sites feel like a Las Vegas strip with banner ads popping out everywhere. Ads on other sites are plainly tasteless and they annoyingly bounce around with the ever-present call-to-action "Click Me", "CLICK ME!" It seems there are plenty of good reasons why banner ads should be attacked.

But let’s not indict a possibly good advertising strategy because of bad tactics. That’s a classic trap in business.

True, click through rates hover at a pitifully low level (about 0.6%according to 1999 Nielsen/Netratings figures) and they appear to continue to fall. But banner ads are effective in other ways.

The View from Academia

Rather than rely on personal opinion, intuition, or the claims of DoubleClick and other web advertising companies (who have an incentive to say banner ads work), let me report what empirical studies in universities are documenting.

Banner ads can make people aware of a product, associate a brand name with what a product stands for, lead to higher recall, build brand equity, and sometimes create a positive brand attitude. Ads that are highly relevant to someone in a buying mood are the most likely to be clicked.

Many banner ads, however, are not even viewed. Is this a problem?

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image of Allen Weiss

Allen Weiss is the CEO and founder of MarketingProfs. He's also a longtime marketing professor and mentor at the University of Southern California, where he leads Mindful USC, its mindfulness center.