Designing Banner Ads: Comparing Apples to Apples

Designing Banner Ads: Comparing Apples to Apples

A few months ago, I had a job request to design a leaderboard (728×90) banner ad in Flash. Project went well, and I think I came up with a nice concept and design (view it here). The banner was well recieved by the client, and now they asked to carry over the same concept to other banner sizes, specifically a 120×600 skyscraper.

Obviously, these sizes are pretty much opposite of each other, so the problem is the concept really doesn’t work as well at other sizes, especially going from a horizontal to a vertical layout. Using elements from the original leaderboard, I was able to give the skyscraper a similar look and feel, but I think the visual experience is very different, and I’m not as pleased with the taller version (view it here). This brings up the question of when resizing banner ads, when does the banner stop being part of the same “campaign” and become more of it’s own new creative? When projects like these go into use, are we really getting a good comparison of which ad placement works better? After all, I don’t think we are comparing apples to apples any more.

Of course the size alone is enough to skew performance results, but I’m saying now that the visual experience has changed there is an additional factor that could change the results. In other words, if the leaderboard performs very well, is it safe to say that the skyscraper will have similar results? I think not… and of course the skyscraper could just as easily outperform the leaderboard. So how much of the performance difference is due to size of the banner and how much is due to the visual?

So, my advice is, even though you have several different sizes as part of one ad campaign, it is still a smart idea to view the results of each banner size similar to a campaign. What I’m trying to say is, lets assume you have 3 creative campaigns at 4 different ad sizes… Campaign A, B and C at sizes 1, 2, 3 and 4. While you need to compare how campaign A performed vs. campaign B vs. campaign C, you should also take into consideration how size 1 for all campaigns compared vs. size 2, 3 and 4 (I hope I’m making some kind of sense here…) What you could possibly find is that your top performers aren’t necessarily all from the same campaign… maybe campaign A size 2 and campaign C size 4 were your top performers. What you can now do is take your top performer in each size and try and combine elements of each one to create a 4th creative campaign and do a test with that. By constantly tweaking and re-testing, hopefully you end up with the best campaign as a whole.

Confusing stuff here, so if you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them!

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