Is Paying for Targeted Ad Impressions Worth it?

June 5, 2015

Written by John Centofanti

John’s background spans the creative side of business, including content writing, branding, graphic design, and more. In 2006, John founded Creative Stream Marketing, serving national retailers, tech companies, and B2B companies across the US.
If 75,000 website visitors see your banner ad, do you get a good return—or any return—on your investment? It depends.

Understanding the Value of Advertising

Paying for a banner ad on a website other than your own can be very profitable or a waste of your marketing dollars. There are a few things to consider before saying yes or no to banner ad opportunities.

  1. Everyone sees leaderboard ads—those ads at the top of a website that sometimes span the width of the page. Since you’ve likely seen some of your favorite brands advertised, it seems logical to advertise your own business similarly.
  2. These ad opportunities often promise a certain number of ad impressions. For example, if 75,000 people visit a particular website in a given month, the offer can be for 25,000 impressions since your ad may be rotated with other ads. Or, you may pay for the entire 75,000. Remember, it’s an impression, meaning, there’s no guarantee that 25,000 people actually looked at or read your ad, but it was displayed that many times.
  3. Banner ads are excellent for brand awareness. They help validate the company and bring Top of Mind Awareness, an ad industry term that’s been around for many years. Maybe you’ve stopped drinking soda. Seeing a banner ad for Coke is a nice reminder when you choose to treat yourself to a soda, it will be Coke. It works.
  4. The more times you see ads the better. New York Times, HP, CDW, and Allstate count on those impressions, because more impressions lead to top-of-mind awareness. More top-of-mind awareness eventually leads to more sales. This often works well in B2C or business-to-consumer marketing.

Do Banner Ads Work for B2B Marketing?

If your business is a tech company that serves other businesses, your target audience is much smaller than the mass of consumers who drive the economy. For most small to mid B2B companies, your name is only known by those in the industry.

Paying for an internet banner ad certainly does increase your brand awareness, but not enough to make your sales team happy. To compare, most high school football stadiums include a physical banner of Coke or Pepsi since those companies often serve as ad sponsors. That works. On the other hand, Joe’s Lawn Mower Repair using the same size banner in the high school stadium does not get the same results. There is not enough brand equity for people to glance at Joe’s banner and remember him the next time their lawn mower needs service.

In the same way, the effectiveness of an internet banner ad depends on other marketing efforts already in place. Do you already have an established social media presence? Do you reach current and potential customers through e-mail marketing? A banner ad can boost Top of Mind Awareness.

Too often businesses are sold the idea that a banner ad can increase revenue simply by click-throughs to their website. They can be good for brand awareness when other marketing is in place, but don’t put too much stock in them.

It’s not uncommon for a banner ad sales rep to offer a $7k banner ad for $2k if you act now. That should be an indication of the value of the banner. Think about it.

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