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The Magestic Splendor of Online Advertising! or some damn thing like that.

Random Whimsy: Making you a banner expert
by Mark Woodruff, Special to

So, you've decided to become a banner expert? Read my Super 6 Steps for Banner SuccessTM and five minutes from now, you'll be On the Road to Banner Gold!TM

1. SCARE THE HELL OUT OF 'EM. Make your banner look like a computer error! Try something along the lines of a "Windows-looking" warning that says, "Holy smokes! Your computer system is screwed! Click here to fix it! Hurry! Aaaaugh!" Thousands of horrified visitors automatically will clumsily lunge for their mouse in a panic and click. Of course, they sometimes end up pretty pissed and go to great lengths to trash you or your company or your product at length in discussion groups, but hey, they did click after all. You've got your click. That's a measurable result. Congratulations! Chalk it up as a job well done.

2. USE REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. This works on two-year-olds and 92-year-olds alike! Every now and then, try creating a banner that says, "Whatever you do, DON'T click here." People can't resist. They're thinking, "Oh yeah? You're sure as hell not gonna tell ME where I can't click!" This methodology is best used for e-commerce sites because often you can coax the clicker into buying something with the very next click. For example, once they've clicked on your reverse psychology banner, give them a little box with the words, "Please do NOT enter your credit card number here to purchase this first-run, laminated Pokemon card for $975." Is that a cash register I hear? Ka-CHING!

3. COME TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE TO USING BIG COMPANY SLOGANS. For example, what's wrong with, "Where do you want to go today? Hmmm?" See how the sly addition of the "Hmmm?" makes it perfectly legal? Microsoft lawyers have long gnashed their teeth over the airtightness of this little loophole. Even a crack lawyer team of Perry Mason, Ally McBeal and Matlock couldn't nail you on this one. (Well, maybe if you threw in Jimmy Smits from his L.A. Law days ... just kidding!)

4. STEAL. Got an Internet connection? Get your banner ideas right off the good ol' Web. There are hundreds of banners out there ... probably thousands. Log on and start going to some of these places and you'll start noticing a few banners here and there. See one you like? Slap your company name or product on it and ... bingo! Remember: If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, doesn't it naturally follow that stealing ideas is downright GUSHING over someone else's work? Besides, who will care if you borrow another company's ideas? The lawyers? Oh, please!

5. BE QUIRKY AND VAGUE. Sometimes it's best to be completely mysterious about the product or service or thing you are trying to promote. One of the best banners I ever saw was a funny little dog riding a bicycle and holding a big human femur in his little jaws with the caption, "Yo, you want fries with that?" Visitors saw it and thought, "Wha?" Admittedly, the click-through rate for this particular ad - for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - was extremely disappointing, but that's only because the placement was all wrong. I dare say that, if handled properly, this ad could have reached millions.

6. PROOF! PROOF! PROOF! Eliminate all mistakes from your banner copy. You've got to proof your banner copy with razor-sharp precision because accuracy is abslotutely the.

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