Writer’s Weekly Retreat: Too Much of a Good Thing

We’ve all see them. Those flickering, flashing, blinking banner ads at the top of our screen that distract us from the content on the page and make us wish the whole concept of the banner ad would fade away like leg warmers from the 80’s. So if most of us find these ads so annoying, why in the world do people keep creating these little monsters?

Believe it or not, even a bad animated banner ad draws more attention than its quite cousin the static ad. Because these ads are better at catching our attention the clickthrough rates are generally higher for animated ads thus making them more effective and more widely used than static ads.

However, because the animated banner boasts better results than the static ad many ad designers (or graphically inclined site owners) believe that bigger, brighter and louder is better. There are far more bad animated ads out there than good ones, and everyday we are bombarded with bad designs, rapid motion, flashing text and unclear messages. But as Internet users most of us know that that a poorly created animated banner ad can have the exact opposite effect as what was intended. Rather than drawing the viewer in and encouraging them to click, these ads have us scurrying for our back button or scrolling further down the page.

Before you turn your back on the banner ad all together…

Besides drawing our attention, the animated banner offers another advantage over the static (or non-animated) ad. The animated ad sports a series of images that run in a continual loop. Each image can contain a separate message and a separate image allowing you to offer more information in greater detail than the single still shot of the static ad.

Take a look at this ad developed by Novella Studios. The ad is composed of six separate still images allowing the author to promote a variety of books (which in this case all happen to be from the same series). The first still is used to draw the visitor in with eye-catching visual elements and bold text. The following four stills provide information about each book within the series. And the final still encourages the viewer to visit both the publisher and author site to learn more. Though animation we can provide the viewer with far more information.

However, if not used correctly the animated banner ad can have a very undesirable effect on your clickthrough rate. Bad designs and unclear messages can turn viewers off. Over-use of animation can make the ad too large, increasing the download time and giving viewers plenty of time to scroll down the page, missing the ad all together. So be sure that you pay attention to your file size as well as your design and message.

A well designed ad that offers stimulating visual elements, an alluring message and a bit of action can be one of the most effective forms of online advertising.


Get to the point. Don’t drown your audience with a bunch of flowery phrases. Just include the “meat” or the point of your message.

Provide a call to action. Amazing enough, people often to what their told and a simple “click here for more information” tag on your ad can yield amazing clickthrough results.


~ by danielledevon on February 27, 2009.

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