What do bored teenagers and blanket web advertising have in common?

Don’t worry. This isn’t a bad joke (although I heard one this week about fake noodles that made my kids roar. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the punch line so you’ll have to Google it).

The answer to both is: They are often found where they don’t belong. …

While I can’t do much about the bored teenagers loitering outside the 7-11, the Sonic drive-Ins and the malls of the United States; I would love to put the wheels in motion to stop the horrid amount of banner ads aimlessly showing up on sites they just don’t belong on.

Unknowing business owners, in pursuit of getting their brand out there, make decisions to saturate their brand presence online through banner advertising, etc. just to get the business out there. The question is though; does this carpet-bombing effort dilute the brand, over-saturate the brand or do anything at all for the brand, good or bad?

Unlike youthful loitering with that worst-case that gets you a ride home by your local police force, there isn’t a fine associated with ads popping up on websites where they’re irrelevant, ineffective and just don’t belong.

We only have ourselves to blame for creating a source of advertising so vast and endless it ran rampantly out of control and one could argue, has become irrelevant. Banner advertising; still a source of great revenue for those serving up ads doesn’t do a lot for most businesses who have a modest digital advertising budget. Thanks to the majority of web users catching an incurable case of ‘ad blindness,’ the occasional, accidental click is often all that registers to offset impressions.

Most big businesses have mastered their ratio of impressions to conversion and can afford to buy so to make their banner ad buy relevant. It does seem counter-intuitive as we are forced to back into numbers versus spending our dollars more intuitively. Let’s also consider what this does to the small business person who doesn’t know how their brand will be received or who hasn’t been in the game long enough to know where they can and should advertise. The CPM on advertising, thanks to large buys backing into conversions through inflated impressions, is so high that inventory isn’t available at prices, times or venues to accommodate the small buyer. The alternative is remnant inventory. Sometimes a company can hit a home run with it, but some might say you’re more likely to win at a spin of the roulette table.

The absolutely delusion of the effectiveness of banner advertising and its current state of ads loitering where they don’t belong has been years in the making. While media planners, inventory specialists and the like still have jobs and rightly so, it is up to the digital strategist with a knowledgeable management and media planner make good business choices when it comes to web advertising.

Think of it this way: Just as we have to give our bored kids plenty of activities scheduled through a furry of carpools timed swaps, so they don’t drive us insanely crazy with their whining or get in trouble with the law, we have to carefully devise a plan fitting an individual business, specific brand and then tailored to the desired customer.

This carefully outlined strategic advertising plan needs to account for every impression of every ad and where it is going to be served. The creative needs to be scrutinized for optimal effect and lastly, people need to be at the ready to pull it and replace it should conversion not be what it should be. Then of course, there is always the matter of budget. It always comes back to the money.

Having been on both sides of the coin and having observed well-executed campaigns and campaigns that were complete disasters; there is certainly value to be found in banner advertising. Redemption of the medium, though can only be granted though, through the recall of the one-size-fits-all media plan. Just as much consideration for where we advertise our products or services should be given to how we produce or offer them.

This has become the job of the digital strategist – especially the strategist in small and new businesses as fortunes are made or broken based on smart brand decisions.  It is quite possible that banner inventory is not a good fit for your brand. Long gone are the times where just because you have a business and a website, you must have an ad buy.

Just as it is true in youthful loitering on the sidewalks and storefronts of America, meaningless presence of a business, where it doesn’t belong leaves a potential customer scratching their head, wondering ‘Huh?’ and a business owner annoyed at the nuisance of it all.

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