How banner ads have survived the times

Way back in 2006, David Tokheim of SAY Media, wrote an article in Forbes claiming that like dinosaurs, banner ideas would eventually die out. Last week, he admitted that he was wrong, which just goes to show how difficult it is to predict the future of digital advertising. Many try, some succeed, but most fail.

What did Tokheim think would emerge as the top digital ad trends? Skins and branded content.

While both have made an impact in digital advertising, they haven’t had the effect banners have.

But it’s 2012 and it’s clear that these aren’t your older sister’s banners. The banner ads from six years ago are nearly extinct. Web users know better than to click to get a free trip to Mexico or to hit the target for a chance to win quick cash. Those banners died off for many reasons, one being that user web savvy has evolved.

Today, banners are personalized, visually-appealing and extremely creative. They have to match user know-how. That’s how the good ones succeed. As Tokheim says:

“Creative matters more than ever. And creative banners can actually be a powerful part of the storytelling experience.”

Advertisers are telling stories with their digital banner ads, and because they have the ability to be interactive and engaging, banner ads can be extremely powerful. Unlike the banners from 2006 (that were, for lack of a better term, annoying), today’s banners are useful and entertaining. Or ideally, they should be.

For example, take a look at Old Navy’s Black Friday ad on Yahoo’s homepage. It’s fun, colorful, catchy, useful and most importantly, you can make it go away if you want. Check out the AdChoices button on the top left corner. That means you can opt out of this behaviorally-targeting ad.

Even better, how about this Mac advertisement on the New York Times website?


Tokheim may have been wrong about the future of digital advertising, but the key takeaway to me is that things don’t necessarily die out, they just need to evolve. And in the case of banner ads, it’s been a fun ride.

Do you think banner ads are here to stay?

Before you go, make sure to check out Mashable’s list of 10 amazing banner ads here.

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