In this article, we’re going to:
- Explain what banner ads are and how they work.
- Mention the most common and best-performing banner ad sizes.
- Briefly explain where and how these ads are most effective.
- Clarify other factors that can impact a banner ad’s performance.
Let’s begin with a quick recap of banner ads.
What Are Banner Ads?
Banner ads refer to rectangular, tall, wide, or square ad sizes used in display advertising. These ads display creatives that can include text, images, motion, or a combination of these elements. These ads are extremely popular since they can help build a brand’s reputation, are easy to implement, effective, and have multiple uses - the most important being convincing users to ‘convert’, whether by clicking or completing another action, such as purchasing a product from the advertised brand.
How Do Banner Ads Work?
Banner ads work on the same principles as their physical counterparts. However, unlike printer banners that can encourage consumers to visit stores and sites after the fact, programmatic banner ads have a singular goal: to generate instant conversions and impact. They are specifically designed to draw the attention of site visitors and encourage them to click on the banner ad.
Banner ads are an essential component of many brands’ display advertising strategies. Consequently, publishers must have these ad spaces available on their sites. However, it’s just as vital to use popular banner ad sizes in high-performing slots to get the best results.
The Most Common And Highest Performing Banner Ad Sizes
There are standardized banner ad sizes that the Interactive Advertising Bureau, also known as the IAB, created. These guidelines determine the different ad sizes that apply to all advertising networks. For desktop, these sizes (in pixels) are:
- 300 x 250 - Medium rectangle.
- 728 x 90 - Leaderboard.
- 160 x 600 - Wide skyscraper.
- 300 x 600 - Half page.
- 970 x 250 - Billboard.
- 336 x 280 - Large rectangle.
- 234 x 60 - Half banner.
- 120 x 600 - Skyscraper.
- 120 x 240 - Vertical banner.
- 300 x 1050 - Portrait.
- 970 x 90 - Large leaderboard.
- 250 x 250 - Square.
- 200 x 200 - Small square.
- 180 x 150 - Small rectangle.
- 125 x 125 - Button.
For mobile, the standard sizes are:
- 350 x 50 - Mobile leaderboard.
- 320 x 320 - Mobile full page flex.
- 320 x 100 - Large mobile banner.
- 300x250 - Medium rectangle.
- 250 x 250 - Square.
- 200 x 200 - Small square.
The statistics indicate that, of these, 89% of impressions come from four particular sizes. These are the banner ad sizes we will explore in a little more detail below.1
Medium Rectangle (300 x 250): 40% of Banner Ad Impressions
The medium rectangle is a staple of display advertising campaigns and is one of the most potent ad sizes in a publisher’s arsenal. They work on both mobile and desktop websites and can be placed in various positions on a site, making them highly versatile. For example, they can be placed within the sidebar or the content itself and are an excellent fit for native ads.
However, because these ads are so widely used and versatile and can blend in well with a site’s content, additional rules govern its use. For example:
- It must be clearly distinguished as an ad.
- It can’t be used on a page without content, forcing a click.
- It can’t be close to interactive parts of a page or app.
- The close button must be clearly visible if used on mobile.
Even with these limitations, the medium rectangle banner ad is a must-have, and publishers would do well to include these spots in their ad inventory.
Leaderboard (728 x 90): 20% of Banner Ad Impressions
Leaderboard ads hold the second spot as far as impressions are concerned. It’s also known as a horizontal banner, and it’s frequently used at the top of websites. However, it may sometimes be placed at the bottom of the site.
That said, there are ways to make leaderboard ads even more effective. In our experience, one of the best ways to improve the efficacy of leaderboard ads is to use sticky leaderboards. These banners have a far higher viewability rate, are excellent for premium deals, and typically have higher click-through rates. For that reason, they appeal to publishers and advertisers alike.
Wide Skyscraper (160 x 600): 12% of Banner Ad Impressions
The wide skyscraper banner ad takes the third spot on this list and is the final size primarily meant for desktop use. The wide skyscraper is most commonly used in sidebars and can be made sticky to remain in view as a user scrolls down a page. It is also more appealing than the traditional skyscraper ad since advertisers as it provides more width for text and other call to actions.
The biggest threat to wide skyscrapers is the growing popularity of mobile devices to view content. This ad size does not translate well to mobile screens.
Mobile Leaderboard (320 x 50): 12% of Banner Ad Impressions
Mobile leaderboard banner ads are one of the best ways to display advertisements over mobile or app content. They’re often made to stick to the bottom of the mobile screen, garnering high viewability rates which appeal to advertisers. These ads are also much less intrusive than other mobile ads such as the full page flex.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Banner Ads
Ad size is just one of several factors that can affect the performance of your banner ads. Even if you use only the best-performing ad sizes on your site, your ad inventory can still fail to meet its potential. Factors you may need to consider include:
- The placement of your banner ads.
- Standards and policies related to ad density, size and placement.
- The requirements, needs, and bidding habits of your advertisers.
- The capabilities and expertise of your ad tech provider.
For example, some banner ads perform better in specific locations on your site. If the placements clash with the layout of your website or make it more difficult for users to enjoy your content, they can still fail to generate revenue.
It’s a good idea to work with an experienced monetization partner or service provider, like rev•amp, who can evaluate your website, propose banner placements, and connect you with suitable advertisers. An advertiser’s creatives, including design, colors, copy, and CTA, can all affect the performance of your banners, but these are factors largely out of a publisher’s control. By working with a reputable partner, you can rest assured that these creatives will be optimized and work hand-in-hand with your banner ad placements to meet your maximum revenue potential.
Banner ads and display advertising is still a highly effective way for publishers to monetize their sites. However, it’s critical to consider the ad sizes, placements, and user experience to generate the highest possible revenue whilst maintaining a good user experience.
Banner sizes can significantly impact the potential revenue of your ad inventory, and some are in higher demand by advertisers than others. Understanding what your advertising partners require is just as vital. However, if you carefully consider all the relevant factors - including banner ad sizes - you’ll be able to maximize your revenue generation.