Date: 01/10/2023
Author: Janick Rolli

Banner Advertising 101: An Introduction for Beginners

Discover the magic of banner advertising with us!” Welcome to our easy-to-follow introduction to the world of banner advertising! In this post, we’ll take you by the hand and walk you through the basics of display marketing. We want to give you a first insight without going into depth – ideal for anyone looking for a gentle introduction to the topic. This article will help you understand the basic principles of banner advertising and realise its potential.

What is banner advertising?

Welcome to the exciting world of banner advertising! If you’ve ever wondered what exactly is behind those vibrant, digital ads you see across the internet, you’ve come to the right place. Banner ads, also affectionately known as display ads, are visual messages that appear on websites to attract attention and get you to learn more about a product or service. From small, unobtrusive rectangles to large-scale images that take up almost the entire screen, banner ads are as diverse as the web itself. These visual gems are designed to pique your curiosity and get you to click and discover more. In this section, we take a quick look at the definition, history and different types of banner ads. Let’s go! 

History and evolution

The journey of banner advertising began in 1994 when the first banner appeared on the internet. This historic event laid the foundation for what would become an indispensable part of online marketing. In the early days, banner ads were static and simple, but over time they have evolved tremendously. Today they are dynamic, interactive and incredibly engaging, designed to communicate with users and drive them to action. We are witnessing the era of video banners, animated ads and many other innovative formats that allow brands to tell their stories in a compelling way. In short, banner advertising has undergone an impressive transformation over the years.

Forms and types

Now that we’ve taken a look at the past, let’s celebrate the diversity of banner advertising! The forms and types of display ads have exploded in recent years to meet the diverse needs of brands and the expectations of users.

Here are the protagonists on our stage:

  • Static banners: our reliable classics that use clear images and text to convey messages simply and effectively.
  • Animated GIFs: These lively characters add movement to grab users’ attention without overloading them with too much information.
  • Flash banners: although now rare, they have revolutionised online advertising with interactive, sophisticated animations.
  • Video banners: with a mix of motion, sound and visual elements, they tell stories that engage viewers and connect them with brands.
  • HTML5 banners: The new heroes of the city, offering interactive experiences and adapting to different screen sizes and resolutions.

Each type has its own specific strengths and areas of use to explore. With this colourful range of possibilities, brands can get creative and interact with their target audiences in a meaningful way. 

Why banner ads?

Now that we’ve learned about the different types, you may be asking yourself, “Why exactly should I use banner ads?” It’s a valid objection, and one we’re happy to answer!

First of all, banner ads offer unbeatable visibility. In the vast digital landscape, display ads are small but powerful beacons that grab users’ attention. With the right design and placement, they can’t be overlooked!

Then there’s targeting. Advanced targeting options allow your banners to reach exactly the people who might be interested in your products or services. Whether by demographic characteristics, interests or surfing behaviour – you are in control.

Not to mention flexibility. Change your ads in real time, test different versions and dynamically adapt your strategy to the reactions of your audience.

Last but not least, display ads promote brand awareness. Even if users don’t click immediately, your image will stick. When the need arises, they remember you!

In short, banner ads are a versatile and valuable tool in your digital marketing toolbox.

ROI in banner advertising

You’re probably asking yourself now, “It all sounds wonderful, but what does it do for my business specifically?” The answer is simple: a considerable return on investment (ROI)!

Banner advertising convinces through cost-efficient models. One of these is the cost-per-click (CPC) model, where you only pay when a user clicks on your ad. This ensures that you are rewarded for genuine interest and engagement, not just visibility.

Then we have the cost-per-mille (CPM) model, which is ideal for brands looking to increase their exposure. Here you pay for every thousandth impression. It’s particularly useful if your main goal is to get as many eyes on your brand as possible.

In terms of conversion rates, display ads have a lot to offer here too. With clearly defined call-to-actions and engaging visuals, banners effectively guide users to the desired actions, be it a purchase, sign-up or other form of conversion.

Finally, the digital nature of banner advertising allows for seamless performance monitoring. Analytics tools allow you to monitor the performance of your ads in real time and make immediate adjustments as needed.

Design basics

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – this saying takes on special meaning in banner advertising. Designing a powerful visual statement that catches the eye while capturing the essence of your brand is an art in itself.

Let’s start with the colours. Choose hues that not only correspond harmoniously with your brand identity, but also attract the attention you need. Contrasting colour combinations can be particularly effective when the choice of colours seems limited to ensure the necessary attention.

Moving on to typography. A clear, easy-to-read font is essential. Be careful not to use too many different fonts to create a clear and consistent image.

Don’t forget the images or graphics. These must be of high quality. Unclear or pixelated images don’t look professional and can have a negative impact on your brand’s image.

And finally, the call-to-action (CTA). This small but powerful player is crucial to the success of your ad. An effective CTA must catch the eye and encourage action without being intrusive.

With these basics, you’re ready for the creative process.

Mobile optimisation

In a world where smartphones are constant companions, mobile optimisation of your banner ads is essential. Handling display ads on mobile devices requires special considerations and sensitivity to the user experience.

Firstly, size matters! Your ads need to be legible and engaging on smaller screens without losing clarity and appeal. The design should be simple but effective, with clear images and easy-to-read text.

Secondly, consideration of operation. Touchscreens require easy-to-navigate elements. Make sure your call-to-actions are easy to type and the user won’t accidentally click on your ad.

Third, load times. Mobile users are often on the go, and their internet connection may not always be optimal. Optimise the file size of your banners to ensure fast loading times.

With these tips, your banners will not only be ready for desktop ads, but also a real eye-catcher on mobile!

Banner placement

The placement of banners is a crucial factor for the success of your display ads. The key here is to be strategic and deliberate.

The first rule is: Be where your target group is! Identify who your potential customers are and where they spend time online. Whether on news websites, in social media feeds or within apps – each platform offers different opportunities and challenges for the placement of your banners.

Pay attention to the “above the fold” area, which is the part of a web page that is visible without scrolling. Ads in this area tend to get more attention because they are immediately visible.

Integration with the content is also crucial. Your banners should fit harmoniously into the design of the website and not be distracting or intrusive. A delicate touch is required here: the banner must not be too inconspicuous either.

Also consider whether certain placements correspond with your banner. For example, a video banner might be more appropriate in a video streaming environment.

With strategic planning and an eye for detail, placing your banner ad will be a breeze.

Ad Networks

When it comes to effective banner placement, ad networks are indispensable allies. These platforms act as intermediaries between advertisers and the websites that offer advertising space.

Ad networks make the process much easier by covering a wide range of websites where your ads can be placed. Not only does this increase the reach of your banner ads, but it also allows for specific targeting. You can precisely target your ads to specific user demographics, interests and behaviours.

Popular networks such as Google Display Network, Meta Audience Network or Xander offer extensive possibilities and tools for analysing and improving your campaigns. This way, you always have an overview of the performance of your ads and can quickly make adjustments if necessary.

With Ad Networks, your banner ads are distributed efficiently and are guaranteed to find their way to your target group – for visible success and measurable results!

How to get started with banner advertising?

“How do I get started?” – one of the most common questions when it comes to getting started with banner advertising. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it looks!

First, goal clear planning. Clearly define what you want to achieve. Whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation or direct sales, a clearly defined goal is the first step.

The next point is the target group analysis. Who are the people you want to reach? Understand their needs, interests and online habits to design effective and engaging ads.

Then it’s on to the design. Use the basics we discussed and create visually appealing, clear and motivating banners. Numerous online tools can help you create professional-looking ads even without graphic design skills.

Finally, placement and monitoring. Decide where your ads should appear and harness the power of ad networks. Continuously monitor the performance of your campaigns and adjust as needed.

With these steps, you are ready for a successful start in banner advertising.

Design and placement

Once the first steps have been taken, we delve into the essential aspects of designing and placing your banners.

Design: Here it is important to combine creativity with strategy. Your banner must not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also communicate your brand’s key messages. Think clear, powerful images and slogans that will be remembered. The call-to-action (CTA) elements should be clearly highlighted to encourage the user to take a clear action.

Placement: This point is equally critical. Your carefully designed banners need to be placed in the right digital locations for maximum visibility and engagement. Placement should be based on your target audience analysis. For example, if you want to target young, tech-savvy people, platforms like Instagram or Twitch could be ideal places for your ads.

One last tip: Both elements, design and placement, should go hand in hand. A perfectly designed banner in the wrong place will bear no more fruit than a poorly designed banner in the perfect place.

With an eye for detail and a well thought-out strategy, your banner advertising will be a complete success.

Pitfalls and common mistakes

Even in the exciting terrain of banner advertising, there are stumbling blocks and pitfalls to avoid.

One common faux pas is over-information. Banners that are overloaded with text and images are often off-putting and confusing. Less is definitely more here. A clear, concise text and a strong, meaningful image are often more effective.

Then we have the unclear call-to-action (CTA). If it’s not clear to the viewer what to do next, there’s a good chance they won’t do anything at all. Your CTA should be clear and inviting, but not push the user.

Ignoring the target group is another classic mistake. Your banner may be beautiful – if it doesn’t speak the language of your target group, it will pass them by. Understand what appeals to and moves your customers.

Lastly, consider mobile optimisation. A banner that looks wonderful on a desktop doesn’t necessarily work the same on a smartphone. Test your banners on different devices to make sure they can shine everywhere.

By avoiding these mistakes, you will set the stage for successful banner advertising.


With the end of our introductory journey through the world of banner advertising, you are now armed with valuable knowledge and practical tips. Effective design and strategic placement of your banners, coupled with an understanding of your target audience and the use of appropriate ad networks, are the foundation for your success. Avoid the common mistakes and fully utilise the power of online visual advertising. With creativity, planning and analysis, your banner ads will not only attract attention, but also deliver tangible results.

We hope this guide has shed light on banner advertising and you are now motivated and informed to get started! If you have any further questions or need specific support, we at digital M. are here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest digital marketing tips and trends.

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