The web banner is displayed when a web page that references the banner is loaded into a web browser. This event is known as an “impression”. When the viewer clicks on the banner, the viewer is directed to the website advertised in the banner. This event is known as a “click through”. In many cases, banners are delivered by a central ad server.
Many banner ads work on a click-through payback system. When the advertiser scans their logfiles and detects that a web user has visited the advertiser’s site from the content site by clicking on the banner ad, the advertiser sends the content provider some small amount of money (usually around five to ten US cents). This payback system is often how the content provider is able to pay for the internet access to supply the content in the first place.
Web banners function the same way as traditional advertisements are intended to function: notifying consumers of the product or service and presenting reasons why the consumer should choose the product in question, although web banners differ in that the results for advertisement campaigns may be monitored real-time and may be targeted to the viewer’s interests.
Many web surfers regard these advertisements as highly annoying because they distract from a web page’s actual content or waste bandwidth. Newer web browsers often include options to disable pop-ups or block images from selected websites. Another way of avoiding banners is to use a proxy server that blocks them, such as Privoxy.
The first clickable web ad (which later came to be known by the term “banner ad”) was sold by Global Net Navigator (GNN) in 1993.
Founded by O’Reilly and Associates, Global Network Navigator (GNN) was the first commercially supported web publication and one of the very first web sites ever. Dale Dougherty was GNN’s developer and publisher. O’Reilly and Associates sold GNN to AOL in 1995 and the site was discontinued a few years later.
The first web banner sold by HotWired, an important early pioneer in commercial web publishing started by Wired Magazine, was paid for by AT&T, and was put online on October 25, 1994.
HotWired was the first web site to sell banner ads in large quanities to a wide range of major corporate advertisers. Andrew Anker was HotWired’s first CEO. Rick Boyce, a former media buyer with San Francisco advertising agency Hal Riney & Parnters, spearheaded the sales effort for the company. When HotWired was sold to Lycos, Boyce became its Vice President of Sales.
HotWired coined the term “banner ad” and was the first company to provide click through rate reports to its customers.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has released a set of sizes which it has designed to make ad sizing more predictable and better for both consumer and producer. It calls these web advertisements “interactive marketing units”. The sizes are as follows (measurements in pixels):
- Sizes for rectangular/pop-up ads
- Medium Rectangle: 300 by 250
- Square Pop-Up: 250 square
- Vertical Rectangle: 240 by 400
- Large Rectangle: 336 by 280
- Rectangle: 180 by 150
- Sizes for banner/button ads
- Full Banner: 468 by 60
- Half Banner: 234 by 60
- Micro Button: 80 by 15
- Micro Bar: 88 by 31
- Button 1: 120 by 90
- Button 2: 120 by 60
- Vertical Banner: 120 by 240
- Square Button: 125 square
- Leaderboard: 728 by 90
- Sizes for “skyscraper” ads
- Wide Skyscraper: 160 by 600
- Skyscraper: 120 by 600
- Half Page Ad: 300 by 600
The IAB has also further standardized four of the sizes (Medium Rectangle, Rectangle, Leaderboard, Wide Skyscraper) into a set of guidelines it calls the “Universal Ad Package”.
Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses materials from the Wikipedia.