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March 9, 2009 / davebirss

How to do a banner ad – PART 3

At long last here is the final post in my trilogy on how to do banner ads. This is where I show you a bunch of techniques that have already been used in banners – not so you can steal them – but so you can be inspired to do great things. Most of the examples click through to a page on bannerblog where you can see them in action.

Build a toy

Let people interact with your banner. Give them a lovely little reward. If you get it right and make it relevant to the brief, you’ll give people a good brand experience. I’ve already mentioned the wonderful Guitar Hero banner that does this perfectly. But here’s another one that’s quite fun from the British Government of all people.


Be relevant

Can you show a bit of extra knowledge about your audience? Can you tailor the ad to the viewer’s location? Or what kind of computer they’re using? Or what’s on TV right now? Here’s a good one that recommends a jacket based on the weather in your area.


Dramatise the proposition

Bring the product benefit to life in an entertaining way. Even better – get people to bring it to life themselves by interacting with the banner. That’s what this lovely mini ad does.


Use a spokesperson

Who is affected by the product? Not necessarily the end user. Or even a human. Your spokesman could be a deer complaining about the mesmerising quality of new extra-bright headlamps. Or a virus being killed by a toilet cleaner. Or someone from the future. This banner very sweetly uses a flower and a bee to tell the message.


Get them to play with the product

A common sales technique is to start you thinking about which product you’d buy if you just so happened to be in the market for what they’re selling. Basically, they put you in the buyer’s mindset to turn you into an actual buyer. That’s exactly what this sexy banner does.


Set a challenge

This is a pretty hard one to do. Don’t get too ambitious with any game idea you have – it’s notoriously difficult to get good gameplay going. And all the old classic games you loved as a kid have been copied already. Good luck. Here’s a slightly underwhelming example – but one that’s probably perfect for the movie’s audience.


Bring the TV ad to life

Don’t just put your TV ad in a banner. That doesn’t really work. People have to click to activate the sound for a start. It sucks. But can you take the elements of the TV ad and bring it to life as a banner? As you’d expect, Apple does this beautifully.


Bring the website to the people

Why expect people to click on a banner to go through to a branded site so that they can get sold at? Do you need them to go through to a branded site at all? How much can go into the banner instead? You can do lots in your little slice of media space – let people download a document, use an expandable to give them more information or do what this ad does – let people register for a product without having to leave the page they’re on. (Sorry – I don’t have an active example of these ads to show you.)


Get slidey

This solution is starting to get a bit tired. You invite the viewer to play with a slider that affects the scenario in the banner. This one uses a pretty specialist media buy – but it was done quite nicely.


Please don’t steal the cursor

The ‘stealing the cursor’ thing is now officially dead. I think it breathed its last rattling gasp about 3 years ago and I did my unfair share of bludgeoning at the time. Please let it rest in peace. Here’s a memorial to the idea in the form of a Pritt Stick kinda ad.


*** UPDATES ***

Take people on a journey

The premise behind this is that you can decide where your banner leads people. Can you turn that into something interesting? That’s what this great banner campaign did for Mini. Clicking on the banner didn’t take you to a branded Mini microsite, it took you on an adventure across the internet. It was genius!


Break out of your media space

Quite a few people have done this using expandables, overlays and fake websites – and press and poster ads have been using the technique for years. But these latest banners for Apple show that there’s still room to do something interesting with it.


There are loads of ways of categorising banners but hopefully this is enough to inspire you. If you’ve got any suggestions of better examples or additional categories, please drop me a line and I’ll update the post.

If you’ve missed my first two banner ad posts, you can see them here:

how to approach the brief

how to approach the creative work


Leave a Comment
  1. Andrew Robinson / Mar 9 2009 4:30 pm

    I really like what apple have been doing recently – interacting with and distrupting the page you’re viewing.

    See here:

  2. davebirss / Mar 12 2009 9:29 am

    Thanks for that Andrew,

    I’ve added the Apple stuff into the post now.

    I’ve got a funny feeling that this post will be updated quite a lot!

    Cheers, Dave

  3. lenisebrothers / Mar 13 2009 2:04 pm

    Thanks for this Dave – this is music to my ears! As a media bod, nothing makes me unhappier than seeing media space used ineffectively – GIFs used instead of Flash, standard creative where rich media could’ve worked much better, I could go on and on… (but I won’t) 🙂


  1. More stuff about banners « The Dictionary of Specific Generalities

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