Internet Marketing

Clickthroughs Aren't Everything: Banner Ads and Brands

If you’re faint of heart, cover your ears, for I speak heresy:

Clicks aren’t all that matter.

A study by Millward Brown Interactive showed that banner exposure can boost brand awareness by as much as 9%, even if a user doesn’t click.

Why I Agree
I’m a branding curmudgeon: If it isn’t generating sales right now I tend to feel somehow betrayed by display advertising. However, there’s no question that brand-building is a legitimate, beneficial exercise. And a well-planned, well-designed banner campaign can do that, even if no one clicks on your banners.

Why I Disagree
This is a study by an agency. Assuming they get paid the same way most of us do, based in part on ad sales, then they have every incentive to prove that banners work even in the absence of clicks.

The Takeaway
Banners do work. Even if no one clicks them. Don’t run your whole campaign around that concept, though. I like to see campaigns driven 70% by direct marketing that gets me sales now, and 30% by some kind of ambient branding development.

Source: “The Advertising Business: Operations, Creativity, Media Planning, Integrated Communications” (Sage Publications, Inc)

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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