What are general best practices for banner advertising

Design and use B2B online banners correctly

The effectiveness of banner advertising has been a hot topic for some time. However, banner blindness and ad blockers are often just a reaction to annoying design and inappropriate thematic contexts of the online banners. With these banner best practices, you can avoid the problem and maximize your clicks and conversions.



In the age of ad blockers and selective banner blindness, the advertising effectiveness of display measures is increasingly being questioned. But the reactance of the users has a lot to do with how the banners are designed and integrated into the environment. It is therefore all the more important to address the advertising contacts as effectively as possible and in the right thematic environment. After all, your banner only has a few seconds to convince the reader of your message. Also read this blog post which explains in more detail why display advertising is far from “dead”.


To identify the success factors of banners, we have tips from Bettina Potsch fetched. As the Digital Business Manager at the Vogel Communications Group, she is responsible for the further development of our digital advertising formats. Before that, she was responsible for the management of the online ads booked with us for seven years. You can now find out how to properly design and use banners in marketing:


Table of Contents:


Best Banner Practice 1: No text deserts, please!

The content-related communication goal of banners should not be “as much as possible” but “as much as necessary”. When designing, make sure to write briefly and concisely. “At best, you have packed your arguments into ten to 20 words,” recommends Bettina Leibert. So think about the three most important keywords for the offer for an hour instead of writing wild texts for an hour.


Image: Vogel Communications Group


The term "pressure vessel components" in connection with "calculate, design and construct" triggers every developer who deals with pressure vessels. The banner doesn't need anything else in marketing to attract the attention of the target group. At a second glance, the user also recognizes that it is a specialist book that focuses on a certain standard.


All of this is completely sufficient - the focus and chapter titles of the book, for example, should first be formulated on the associated landing page.


Image: Vogel Communications Group


The second example of the banner is also limited to the essentials: For a first click, it is completely sufficient to present the event as a meeting point for two increasingly closely related industries - even if the banner only works for people who want the added value of this industry association have already recognized.


You convince everyone else of this idea in those two seconds that the banner has for information, but neither do you. There are better formats for this, for example PR and content marketing measures.



Best Banner Practice 2: Wear the Bear to Hunt!

The so-called call-to-action is one of the more important text elements on an online advertising banner. This is a brief invitation to take action. "Although every user knows by now that you can click on banners on the Internet, our evaluations show that a call-to-action increases the click rate of a banner - so here you can really carry the bear out to hunt," explains Bettina Leibert .


It is important that calls-to-action are in the reading flow of the banner content and are highlighted in color. Contrasting colors and shapes that are reminiscent of website buttons (buttons) usually increase the click-through rate (CTR).


Image: Vogel Communications Group


In the banner example: The call-to-action is highlighted separately and placed in the reading flow. Also well solved: The information that a free dossier is waiting after the click. Unspecific calls-to-action can lower the click rate because they do not make the value of the click visible to the user.


Wrong terms at the wrong time (for example “book now” on an online banner that actually only advertises an overview of travel offers) can even reduce the click rate. It's worth putting a little more brainwash into those one or two words.


//Tip: Calls-to-action are not only useful on banners. Actually, hardly any advertising material can do without it - and certainly not business websites. Here you will find a detailed introduction and other examples of clever calls-to-action.



Best Banner Practice 3: Make optimal use of the corner of your eye as a success factor

The selective banner blindness of some users means that they can no longer really perceive display advertising even without ad blockers. However, even these users cannot defend themselves against impressions in the corner of their eyes, because they cannot be actively faded out without blinkers. In contrast to the texts on the banners, for example.


That's why online banners need a strong visual. “It should either be a picture that picks up your target group emotionally or provides professional recognition value. If you sell your products to different target groups, there are also different visuals, ”recommends digital expert Bettina Leibert.


Image: Rembe


In the banner example: The two Rembe banners were placed on process.de, a specialist portal from the Vogel Communications Group for the process and chemical industry. While the upper banner with the chemical factory runs as a visual in the “Safety” and “Pharma” subject areas, the lower banner can be found in the “Bulk Goods” section.


Image: Rembe


But stylized visuals can also create desired effects:


(Picture: Vogel Communications Group)


In the example: The key visual succeeds in attracting different target groups with the topic Industry 4.0 to address. In addition, symbols for production, development, resource planning and logistics are displayed and networked with one another - Industry 4.0 in an optical nutshell.


In some cases, however, the banner itself becomes a single visual in marketing. At first glance, the following example contradicts the idea of ​​drawing attention with graphics. But exceptions prove the rule, and the top rule in everything remains: Your target group is decisive in the design. Therefore, online advertising banners like the following can also be useful:


(Picture: Vogel Communications Group)


In this case, these are embedded programmers, in whose scene the so-called ASCII art is widespread - and who generally want to see information presented without a lot of "shisha".



Best Banner Practice 4: Stringent design and appealing choice of colors

The choice of colors for online banners also matches the design themes. Don't forget your target group and their color affinities. In the tech-heavy B2B area, these are mostly the quieter and "masculine" colors such as blue, black, white and also red, which appeal to the target group.


The choice of color should also be based on the corporate design of your company. Everyone recognizes Telekom's magenta without looking at the logo - ideally, banners achieve branding effects without a click, as we have shown in this study. Above all, it is very important that the color scheme is continued within the campaign.


Image: Concarexpo


As in this example: The banner of the ConCarExpo, which is currently on our portal "Automobile Industry" rotates, meets all the criteria of good banner design: targeted choice of words, thematically appropriate key visual, intelligent call-to-action, clear coloring. Just as good, however, is the stringency towards the landing page, on which all the colors, symbols and fonts of the banner can be found at first glance ("above-the-fold", i.e. without having to scroll).


Image: Concarexpo



Best Banner Practice 5: We're not in Times Square here!

When you talk about animated online advertising banners, you immediately think of the worst examples that bothered you during your last foray through the Internet. Flashing, glowing and brightly colored, these specimens are eye-catching - but create more anger than interest in the advertised product.


Therefore: animation yes - wildly blinking banners no! Ads that are too discouraging will damage your brand and encourage the use of ad blockers. “Basically, the entire animation should not be longer than six seconds and contain a maximum of three frames - the banner usually doesn't have more time,” advises Bettina Leibert.


Everything else should then be found in a landing page for which the call-to-action is best visible on each frame. It is also ideal to stop the animation after two passes so that it does not interfere with reading. Then the last frame has to be designed in such a way that it works on its own if necessary.



Weidmüller provides a good example of restrained banner animations. One click opens the animated variant in a new page, which we unfortunately could not elegantly integrate at this point. (Image: Weidmüller)



Best Banner Practice 6: “Measure what is measurable” - and interpret the right number correctly

Do you measure the click-through rate (CTR) of your banners to find out whether it was worth it? “There is nothing wrong with that, but we repeatedly experience that customers only rate a complete campaign on the basis of CTRs,” explains display specialist Leibert.


Above all, CTRs tell you something about whether the banners were well designed and placed in the right environment. Above all, they make sense to compare different placements and designs with one another. If the ultimate goal of a campaign, for example Lead generation for sales, the landing page conversion rate is your basic performance indicator (more on that a few lines later ...).


//Tip:In this article, we have summarized various performance indicators that, depending on the campaign goal, are better suited to measuring success than the CTR.


In addition, online banners promote your brand awareness - a quantity that is rarely explored when it comes to banners. Because with an online banner you communicate your brand - just like on a good old poster. In this way, your brand on the advertised topic stays in the memory of the website visitors without a click - and they are actively searched for if necessary. We have proven this in a study on brand awareness through banner advertising. This knowledge is particularly important in B2B, because here a product campaign rarely coincides with a large-scale demand in the industry.


Therefore: Measure the clicks, but put them in the right context.


Conversion measurement:

If you're looking at the metrics you use to evaluate the success of your banners, then you should also take a look at the conversion. “One click does not generate any turnover - that's why the success of the campaign should not only be measured in terms of ad impressions or clicks,” says Bettina Leibert.


The conversion rate shows you how many visitors to your website have implemented your desired goal (e.g. contact request, product purchase). To support the conversion, you need a well-designed landing page. You should therefore already think about the specific goals you want to achieve when planning your campaign.


Your marketing goal will never be the "click on the banner", but the acquisition of new customers, increasing sales, downloading a white paper, etc. Especially in the industrial andtechnical marketingWhen it comes to high-priced and complex products, direct contact with the customer is crucial. Therefore, the possibility of conversion must be given on the landing page.


This is how your B2B website turns clicks into real sales

In our whitepaper we have compiled examples from practice and highlight all aspects of a modern B2B website that generates active leads for sales and thus sales. You can look forward to the following topics with a practical guarantee:

  • Layout and structure
  • Lead generation and B2B online shops
  • Security, data protection and search engine optimization

>> Download now





Best Banner Practice 7: Online banners are team players

"We notice that many B2B marketers still link far too often from a banner to their home page or to a general press release," says Bettina Leibert. “You then expect the visitor to find his way around on his own”. But it rarely does, because that is the usability motto "You can make the user click, but you must never make him think" is a bitter reality, you can quickly see from the bounce rates. That is why online banners should always come as a team, with a landing page created especially for the campaign.


You should therefore offer your users condensed information at a glance on a landing page. Here, too, you should concentrate on the essentials. Make the added value of the advertised product clear and give yourself the opportunity to download further information (maybe even against registration or email address >> lead generation) or to make an appointment with your sales department. You should concentrate on a maximum of two calls to action. In addition, these should at best represent gradations.


A concrete example:
You want to make your stand known at the leading electronics trade fair "electronica". To do this, you place a display campaign in the specialist magazine “Elektronikpraxis” and send interested parties to a landing page. There you summarize all the information and highlights of your trade fair presence and offer the opportunity to make an appointment directly with a sales representative at the stand.


You could, for example, offer people who do not want to be directly involved in a sales conversation a food voucher. In this way, you still guided potential customers to the stand and generated contact details for relevant leads for further marketing processes.


The landing page of electronics distributor Mouser for electronica 2016 also offers a good example in retrospect. The Dev Kit competition mentioned there was used in advance to generate leads.



Best banner practices based on the AIDA principle

“Basically, an online banner should cover the entire AIDA principle,” advises Bettina Leibert. First of all, the attention of the user must be aroused; this is best achieved with a strong visual. In the next step, interest is generated by clearly working out the USP. The promise of added value arouses the desire to learn more about the topic (desire), until the click can ultimately also take place (action) via an ideally designed call to action.



Google activates its own ad blocker

Do you remember the days when websites were barely usable because they were practically paralyzed by banners and glowing advertisements. Google put a stop to these measures - or rather the cry for attention - and made so-called bad ads or annoying online banners disappear.


It is not forbidden to include such banners on websites, but you will be punished in terms of search engine ranking if you include these annoying advertising formats on your own website. In addition, these formats are no longer displayed at all by the integrated ad blocker in the Chrome browser.


So Google banned banners

This filters so-called “bad ads” from the websites. It works like this:


  • A total of 12 widespread advertising formats are affected (more about their nature and selection in a moment)
  • If Chrome detects such a format on a website, it blocks the ad. “Good Ads” on the same page are initially unaffected
  • Google uses the “Search Console” tool and the “Ad Experience Report” to inform the website operator about the process
  • The operator then has 30 days to remove all “bad ads” from his website
  • If this does not happen, all ads on the website, regardless of their nature, will be blocked by Chrome. This even applies to ads from Google's Adsense network, with which blogs in particular earn their money



Which banner formats end up in the web Orkus?

Basically, the initiative goes back to the so-called “Coalition for Better Ads”. It consists of large advertising groups such as Procter & Gamble, publishers such as Axel Springer and Washington Post, as well as various associations and stakeholders in the digital economy. And of course Facebook and Google shouldn't be missing. All members can see here.


This coalition is responsible for the selection, which was based on intensive measurements of how users interacted with the ads. You will probably not come across these banner formats on the desktop in the future:



And on mobile devices, these ads hit the mark:




Practice case: How Schneider Electric generates C-level contacts for sales with online banners

Schneider Electric provides leading technology for the digital transformation of energy management and automation of living space, buildings, data and data centers and industry. To optimize the distribution of its solutions, Schneider Electric primarily addresses contacts at the C-level. In this case you can read how the technology group reaches its target group with marketing online banners via keyword advertising. >> To the display marketing practice case


We wish you many successful banner campaigns! By the way, with us you can reach all possible B2B target groups, especially in industry. Find out more about your advertising options here or contact us directly.



Lead image: Pixabay / CC0


Daniel Furth

Daniel Furth has been working in digital marketing since 2013 and worked as a reporter during his studies. Today he combines a passion for good content and digital marketing at the Vogel Communications Group and is always looking for examples of good B2B marketing. Subject submissions by email are very welcome: ...