Banner Ads Explained Definition and Creation Tips

What Is a Banner Ad?

A banner ad is a form of online advertising that is typically a rectangular graphic display that stretches across the top, bottom, or sides of a website. These ads can vary in size, design, and content but are usually designed to attract users' attention and encourage them to click through to a landing page or website.

A banner ad is a type of visual online advertisement known as a display ad. Placed strategically on webpages, these ads aim to attract users’ attention and generate clicks.

On websites and apps supported by ads, banner ads can be found in several common locations:

  • Near the top of the page, below the website header
  • In the sidebar, especially the right-hand sidebar
  • Interspersed within the main content
  • Fixed to the bottom of your browser window

Like this:

They are designed to drive traffic to specific landing pages or important webpages, like product pages, and encourage conversions, such as purchases, form submissions, or app downloads. Additionally, they are effective for raising brand awareness.

How Does Banner Advertising Work?

Banner advertising operates by aligning publishers seeking to monetize their websites with advertisers aiming to connect with the publishers’ audiences.

This process often involves the use of digital advertising platforms to disseminate ads across clusters of websites known as display networks.

For instance, Google Ads enables advertising on the Google Display Network, encompassing 35 million digital properties. Targeting tools within these platforms help advertisers restrict their ad placements to ensure relevance.

You might recognize the icon that accompanies Google banner ads:

Here are some additional digital advertising platforms:

  • Meta Ads, offering banner ad placements on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and the Meta Audience Network
  • Microsoft Ads, providing display ad placements on Microsoft properties such as MSN, Outlook, and the Microsoft Search Network
  • Amazon Ads, enabling display ad placements on Amazon and other affiliated sites
  • Epom, offering a range of ad formats including responsive ad banners and in-app banners across various channels

The platform you select dictates where your ads appear, the ad formats available, audience targeting options, and more. Therefore, thorough research is crucial.

Alternatively, you can directly negotiate ad placements with publishers.

For instance, ScreenRant offers contact forms for ad inquiries, ideal for reaching a highly specific audience.

However, scaling your advertising using this method can be challenging.

Banner ad pricing models can vary depending on the platform and publisher. Here are some common pricing models:

Cost per mille (CPM)Pay for every 1,000 impressions (views) of your ad. This is suitable for increasing brand awareness.
Cost per click (CPC)Pay based on the number of clicks your ad receives. This is ideal for driving traffic to your website.
Cost per action (CPA)Pay based on the number of clicks that result in a specific action, such as a sale or lead. This is great for performance-based advertising.
Flat ratePay a fixed amount regardless of ad performance. This can provide predictability in costs for the advertiser.
HybridA combination of different pricing models, such as CPM plus a bonus for each conversion. This allows for flexibility in payment based on specific campaign goals.


In many cases, website banner ads are purchased programmatically, which involves an automatic auction for ad space. Advertisers set a maximum bid, and if they win the auction, the amount they pay depends on various factors such as their bid, the publisher, the type of ad space, competition, campaign duration, and more.

For a general idea, here are some CPM benchmarks:

7 Banner Ad Examples

Below, we’ve gathered some banner ad examples to inspire you.

If you prefer to analyze your competitors’ banner ads for ideas, you can use the AdClarity app. Simply add the advertiser you’d like to analyze and select the “Display” channel.

Scroll down to “Top Ads” to view which of their ads received the most impressions.

You’ll also find the following details:

  • Actual ad creative
  • Ad type (static banner ad or animated banner ad)
  • First seen date
  • Total spend
  • Total impressions

Click on any ad for more details. For example, you can open the campaign landing page and see which publisher generated the most impressions.

An example of an ad page from Target in the AdClarity app.

Now, on to the examples.

Amazon Music:

Amazon Music’s vertical banner ad, which received 2.4 billion impressions in the U.S. from August 2023 through October 2023, features a bright yellow background that captures users’ attention. A complementary purple draws attention to a “Try Now” call to action (CTA), designed to look like a button to encourage clicks.

The ad prominently features the Amazon logo to capitalize on brand recognition and immediately explain the product being advertised. Additionally, a bold slogan, “Start listening for free,” clearly communicates a key user benefit.

Nike:

Nike’s 300 x 250 px banner ad for road running shoes effectively communicates key product benefits. The photo clearly shows the shoes are designed for road running, while the slogan emphasizes comfort and safety. The “Learn More” call to action (CTA) implies there are more features to discover, which can be more appealing and less pushy than a “Shop Now” button.

Slack:

Slack’s static ad is focused on lead generation rather than direct sales. It encourages users to download a helpful guide instead of making a purchase. The campaign landing page is well-aligned with the banner ad design and encourages users to submit their information.

This approach is effective for targeting users higher up in the marketing funnel.

Murray’s Cheese:

Murray’s Cheese employs an animated banner ad to display its range of products, leveraging movement to attract attention and prompt engagement.

The ad highlights the convenience of online shopping, noting that purchasing is just “one click away” and encouraging users to “Shop Murray’s online.” This approach is particularly effective since many consumers are accustomed to buying cheese in physical stores.

Furthermore, Murray’s Cheese utilizes the ad to enhance brand awareness, featuring a prominent logo, mentioning the brand in the call-to-action (CTA), and using an on-brand color scheme.

Google Chrome:

This horizontal banner ad is designed to resemble a dialog box or warning message typically encountered on a website.

This design choice not only grabs users’ attention but also instills a sense of urgency and importance, potentially prompting users to take action, such as downloading Google Chrome.

Additionally, the ad copy is effective in addressing a common objection: the compatibility of the product with users’ devices. This anticipatory approach can help alleviate concerns and encourage further engagement.

Yahoo Mail:

Yahoo Mail first introduced this ad in 2019 and continues to use it, as per the information available at the time of this writing, according to AdClarity.

This longevity suggests that well-crafted ads can yield long-term effectiveness.

One standout feature of this banner ad is its slogan, which addresses a common frustration: the challenge of finding emails.

Additionally, the ad employs creative imagery to enhance visual appeal and engagement.

Capital One Shopping:

Capital One Shopping strategically advertises its coupon-finding extension on websites where coupons are typically used, such as Kohl’s and Target.

This targeted approach aims to reach shoppers who are most likely to benefit from the service, thereby maximizing click-through and conversion rates.

The ad’s design, featuring capitalized text, a red and white color scheme, and cut lines, mimics the appearance of a traditional coupon. This design choice clearly communicates the availability of a deal, making it appealing to cost-conscious consumers.

How to Create Banner Ads that Convert

Planning, creating, and launching a banner ad campaign involves several key steps:

Step 1.Define Your Goals

Clearly defined goals are crucial for your banner ad campaign. They provide direction and allow you to measure its success effectively.

First, determine your budget. It’s wise to start conservatively and increase your budget as you learn what works best for your campaign.

Next, establish your primary goal:

  • For conversions, set a cost per action (CPA) limit, which is the amount you’re willing to spend to acquire a lead, user, or customer.
  • For traffic, set a cost per click (CPC) limit, indicating the amount you’re willing to pay for each click on your ad.
  • For brand awareness, set a cost per mille (CPM) limit, representing the amount you’re willing to spend per 1,000 impressions (views) of your ad.

This approach helps you manage your budget effectively and achieve a positive return on ad spend (ROAS).

Step 2. Decide What to Advertise

At this stage, you need to decide what to advertise on your banner ad and select a suitable page to link to, which is often a landing page. The best choice depends on your primary goal, but you should also consider business metrics, industry trends, audience needs, and other factors.

For instance, you might typically advertise your best-selling products and link directly to the corresponding product pages to drive sales.

Like this:

However, during events like Black Friday, you could promote an entire product range and create a dedicated campaign landing page to showcase multiple products and deals.

Like this:

Step 3. Choose Ad Specifications

The size, placement, and format of your banner ad can significantly impact its effectiveness and cost. Generally, more attention-grabbing placements, such as prominent positions on a webpage, come at a higher cost.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has established standard sizes for banner ads on desktop and mobile devices. For desktop, common sizes include the leaderboard (728×90 pixels) and the skyscraper (160×600 pixels).

On mobile, popular sizes include the medium rectangle (300×250 pixels) and the large mobile banner (320×100 pixels).

Ads positioned above the fold (the visible part of a webpage before scrolling) typically receive more impressions. Similarly, sticky ads, which remain visible as the user scrolls, can also increase visibility and engagement.

Below-the-fold banner ads can be effective for targeting highly engaged users, especially when placed within the main content of a webpage.

While above-the-fold ads are more visible initially, below-the-fold ads can capture the attention of users who are actively engaging with the content and may be more receptive to ads.

Traditional banner ads are static, but you can enhance them with animations, videos, or interactive elements to make them more engaging and effective in conveying complex messages. However, using these features may come at a higher cost, so it’s important to consider the potential benefits in relation to your budget and goals.

To determine the most effective banner ad specifications for your campaign, it’s advisable to experiment with different formats, placements, and features. This will help you identify which elements drive the best return on ad spend (ROAS) for your campaign.

Step 4. Design Your Banner Ad

It’s time to create a banner ad that grabs attention and drives clicks. The approach you take should align with your ad specifications, target audience, and campaign objective. Here are some design tips to help you get started:

Start with a compelling headline that conveys your main message. Use concise language and a large, clear font to ensure that users can quickly grasp your headline.

Just like McDonald’s has here:

Write a CTA, too.

When crafting a banner ad, include a short, action-oriented text that encourages users to act, such as “Watch Trailer,” designed to resemble a button for clickability.

For imagery, opt for high-quality visuals.

For product ads, use lifestyle photography to help users envision owning the product. For other campaigns, consider eye-catching illustrations or simple patterns that highlight your message.

Incorporate your branding elements, such as your logo and colors, to enhance brand recognition. Ensure your ad aligns with your brand identity; for instance, luxury brands like Dior maintain chic and simple designs and rarely promote sales.

For easy banner ad creation, consider using the Instant Banner Generator.

To create banner ads using the Instant Banner Generator, follow these steps:

Select the “IAB display formats” tab and choose your preferred banner ad size(s).

Upload your company logo and any other banner imagery, including royalty-free photos from Unsplash.

Enter the ad copy, including a title, CTA, and additional body content. Choose your favorite font(s).

Click “Save settings & generate banners” to create a variety of banner ad designs.

Save your favorite designs and download them for use on your display network or to send to publishers.

For more complex designs, consider using Google Web Designer and ensure your ads use responsive layouts to adapt to different devices.

Step 5. Target the Right Audience

To ensure your banner ads are effective, it’s important to target them to relevant audiences. This helps avoid wasting money on users who are unlikely to convert. Here are some common targeting types:

  1. Retargeting: Reach users who have interacted with your business before, such as those who visited your website or added items to their cart.
  2. Demographic: Target users based on age, gender, marital status, etc.
  3. Geographic: Target users based on their location.
  4. Behavioral: Target users based on their browsing history and previous interactions with ads.
  5. Interest-based: Target users based on their interests and hobbies.
  6. Device: Target users based on the device they are using.
  7. Contextual: Ensure ads are placed alongside relevant content.

You can grab useful data from Semrush’s One2Target tool.

Select your location and input up to five competitors’ domains.

Click “Analyze.”

In the “Demographics” tab, view age, gender, and geographical data for your market audience.

In the “Socioeconomics” tab, discover the audience’s household size, household income, employment status, and education level.

The “Behavior” tab provides insights into audience interests and compares desktop versus mobile usage.

After collecting data, create buyer personas to represent various segments of your target audience.

Here’s an example made with the free Semrush Persona tool:

Utilize these profiles for effective ad targeting.

Step 6. Launch and Monitor Your Banner Ads

It’s essential to plan your budget carefully and schedule your banner ads for the campaign period. Consider using split testing to compare different ad variants and optimize your campaign for better performance.

Monitor key metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions during the campaign to make informed decisions.

After the campaign, analyze the data to calculate your return on ad spend (ROAS) and identify areas for improvement in future campaigns.

Keep expanding your business with ads

Banner ads are just one way to quickly boost your business. Check out our guides on display ads and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for more strategies. When you’re ready to launch your advertising campaigns, Semrush has the tools you need.