For Better Banner Ads, Skip The Gimmicks

As we proved with our ill-fated “click here for freeze-dried gerbils” campaign, there are plenty of tricks you can use to get people to click on your ad banner. You need to follow some basic rules, though, if you want to get any real benefit from your investment in banner advertising.

Some of the more common gimmicks to trick web surfers into clicking an ad are:

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Bogus contests. “Click here for a chance to win a million dollars” is a great banner ad tagline, if you’re actually giving away a million dollars. If you’re not, don’t pretend that you are. Giving people who click on such a banner a free sample of “lucky lottery numbers” is not going to make them happy they visited your site. All it takes is a few complaints to the right authorities, and you won’t just have a bad reputation, you’ll have legal trouble.
Fake forms. These are those little banner ads that look like interactive forms, but when the user tries to click the menu or text entry box, they’re clicked through to another site. To many web surfers, this is very offensive. If you have a banner that shows a fake search form, it had better take the visitor to a real search form. This is a bit of a gray area, of course – we’ve seen a lot of effective ads that show form elements, but they were easily identified as ads. If you want to use a form to entice potential visitors, why not make a real interactive form for your ad?

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