Banner Advertising: Questions to Ask, What to Look For and Red Flags

Banner Advertising: Questions to Ask, What to Look For and Red Flags
Michael Ricci BY

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As a leader in the online jazz music space, and with years of hands-on experience at managing advertising sales and ad serving software, I felt it was a good time to help the many newcomers to this arena better understand how banner advertising works, and offer sound solutions and insights when making purchasing decisions.

I'm going to shoot straight with you. Many of my comments below are based on conversations I've had with various advertisers over the last few years.

You have many options available to promote your product or service online and I encourage everyone to explore All About Jazz (and Jazz Near You) first, as we have the greatest reach and the deepest banner inventory, and by a very wide margin.

Trust, but verify

If you are new to online advertising, the first step is market research. For this you need facts and numbers, not hype. There are plenty of reliable third-party website analysis tools—simply Google them. By using these tools you can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff. Note that just because a brand has a print publication doesn't mean that they have a web presence or fully understand web-based advertising.

Once you find the top websites or blogs, visit them, get a feel for how they function and download their media kit.

Red flag: A publisher does not provide an advertising rates page. Online advertising is about banner impressions purchased; it's not fuzzy math and rates should be 100% transparent. The rates and options page should be readily accessible to you.

Going rates

CPM represents the cost per thousand banner impressions shown. So, if you purchase 50,000 banner impressions at a $10 CPM, then the cost of that campaign is $500. (click here to view our web advertising glossary)

I've seen web banner rates as much as $20 CPM. All About Jazz offers a $10 CPM for a run of site (ROS) banner and $13.50 CPM for geo-targeted banners.

If a website sells you on a flat monthly rate, ask them how many impressions that particular page (or their website) will generate in a 30-day period, then do the math with this CPM calculator. You can quickly determine the CPM based on their quoted rate and their total impressions.

Your checklist

Red flag: A publisher cannot forecast banner impressions by zone over a particular period of time.

Red flag: A publisher cannot furnish you with a performance report at the conclusion of your campaign. You're entitled to the following information: banner impressions served, banner clicks and CTR.

Red flag: A publisher quotes you banner rates based on a print rate structure. Again, it's about banner impressions delivered within a period of time. A flat rate or a "one month" quote is meaningless if their website generates low traffic. Ask the publisher straight up, "can you serve 50,000 banners in a two week period?"

Just to put things in perspective, All About Jazz can serve 50,000 leaderboard banner impressions in a single day and still have surplus banner inventory. It takes some jazz websites three months to reach that number.

Red flag: A publisher cycles banners within a single zone on a page, without a page refresh. This practice does you a great disservice as you are sharing a zone with other advertisers and there is a strong possibility that your ad will go unseen. If this is the case, the CPM should reflect that and should be greatly reduced as a result. To be clear, a single banner should appear exclusively in a zone on a page and should rotate on a page refresh only.

In conclusion

With a little help, there doesn't need to be anything mysterious about web advertising. It's simple: you drive the process. You determine your campaign's start date and your campaign's end date. You establish your budget and you make the buy. You know exactly how many readers you'll reach based on your budget and the website's CPM. And you can use this handy CPM calculator to do the math.

With online advertising you get the impression (just like print) but with the potential added benefit of a click through.

If you have any questions about All About Jazz advertising opportunities, or want to know the facts about cost vs. reach and results, please contact me.

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