Banners, display ads or banner ads are a form of internet advertising. Similar to ads in print media, a certain area of the website is used as advertising space which is supposed to bring about brand awareness and motivate users to click on the ad.

The online advertising market has grown steadily in recent years and advertising in the form of banner ads is of great importance, as investment in banner advertising is for example greater than for search engine advertising (SEA) and the use of affiliate networks. The development of mobile devices poses even greater potential for advertisers as use of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets etc) for surfing the internet is increasing. It can therefore be expected that mobile advertising investments and chances for success will increase over the years.



Ad servers on which ad server software is installed make up the technical infrastructure for banners. A distinction is made between local ad servers and remote ad servers. The software offers various settings such as the rotation of a banner. If a user visits a website several times, different banners can be displayed to them during each visit. In addition, advertisers offer different formats, which differ in their effect on the user as well. The individual formats usually have certain standard sizes.

  • Banner: Rectangle in different sizes. Often seen at the top of a website.
  • Rectangle: A rectangle or square that can reach up to half of the visible area of the website.
  • Layers: A layer is superimposed on the website. It is often displayed as a Flash animation, which remains visible even if the user scrolls down (also called sticky ads). These are available in different sizes.
  • MaxiAd: Usually in the form of a rectangle, with the dimensions 640 x 480 pixels
  • Skyscraper: Shaped like a skyscraper, either a little Left or right on the website, sometimes even when the user scrolled down.
  • Wide Skyscraper: This banner is usually placed to the right of the content of the website. It is wider than an ordinary skyscraper. According to the rules of the US Interactive Advertising Bureau, wide skyscrapers measure 160 x 600 or 200 x 600 pixels and exceed a file size of 40 kilobytes.
  • Full-size banner: A banner in the format of 468 x 60 pixels, located at the top of the page. It is considered the established standard banner and is often combined with other formats in order to increase the advertising impact.
  • Content Ads: Content ads are placed in the editorial section of a website. The size depends on the content of the website. It usually relates in terms of content to the “sponsored posts.” Content ads can be executed as static or animated banners, and flash animations.
  • Popup: Popup banners are placed over the content of a website. They are opened automatically when the web page is accessed or according to a specified time interval. Newsletter sign-ups are often advertised with pop-up banners.
  • Wallpaper: Wallpaper banners are a combination of a full-size banner and skyscraper and therefore cover a large part of the background of a website. They can also be linked to animations or other formats (for example, sticky ads, expandable, or animations).
  • Leaderboard: A large horizontal banner in the format of 780 x 90 pixels, located between the title and content area.[1]
  • Interstitial: Large-area pop-up banners that are “between” the web page and the user (interstitial). The possible functions and properties are similar to conventional pop-up banners.

Advantages and disadvantages

Each standard format has several advantages and disadvantages. While banners and skyscrapers are a form of advertising whereby the content of the website is still visible, this is often not the case with rectangles and layers. The user has to close them in order to view the content of the website. Users therefore often use AdBlockers, which prevent banner ads when loading the website, which means losses for the advertising industry. Rich Media (audio, video, and flash animations), nanosite banners or flying ads are examples of new advertising formats designed to increase the psychological effectiveness of banner ads.

Being able to measure the success of banners is very advantageous for banner advertising. Page impressions, click through rate, and finally sales can be tracked and evaluated with various technical tools such as cookies. The banner advertising cost calculation is also done with these techniques.

Banner ads can be optimized with specific tracking and targeting actions by the advertiser. With targeting, campaigns can be tailored to user behavior or specific regions. Since companies invest billions in the online advertising industry, the effectiveness of banner advertising should increase. However, the declining user acceptance when advertising becomes too obtrusive poses a problem.

Relevance to SEO

Banners are often integrated with scripts that cannot be interpreted by search engine crawlers. It generally isn’t a problem if a crawler finds parts of scripts in an HTML document, however, the algorithms of the search engine operators consider the number of such scripts in relation to the actual content. If a page consists largely of banners, the search engine may consider it as spam, and therefore not include it in the index, or they may issue a penalty.

Another aspect is usability. If users see too many ads, they will quickly leave the site and search for the required information somewhere else. This increases the [[Bounce Rate|bounce rate] of a webpage. The same applies to mobile applications. Banner ads should be optimized for small displays and responsive designs.


  1. Leaderboard Definition Accessed on November 27, 2014