Back when search engine marketing first started, nearly all online advertising efforts were based on a CPM (cost per mille, or cost per thousand impressions) model. Naturally, this resulted in a proliferation of banner ads online. If you’re going to pay for eyeballs on your ad, it’s in your best interest to make your ad as visually appealing as possible.
Gradually, the dominant model for advertising shifted to pay-per-click, where at least you know a customer is taking an action after seeing your ad. However, banner ads are still around. Some advertising brokers like to fancy up the terminology by calling them “display advertising” or “image ads,” but at their core they’re still good old banner ads.
Since banner ads are one of the oldest methods of online advertising, consumers have become so accustomed to them they tend to tune them out. Especially savvy internet users can install ad-blocking browser extensions or programs and never see them at all. Kind of a bleak prognosis for someone who wants to run some pretty image ads, no?
Image ads still have their uses, though. In Google AdWords, you can choose to run an image ad campaign on whatever sites you like (within the Google Content Network) using a cost-per-click or a CPM model. I prefer running image ads at CPC models – if no one ever clicks on your ads, you can easily rack up hundreds of thousands of impressions at little or no cost. This is a great way to increase brand recognition, especially if you’re a small company.
I’ve seen image ads work for some advertisers who have products with great visual appeal (clothing, jewelry, etc.). However, if you’re trying to sell a business-to-business software solution, it’s going to be a little tougher to convey how awesome your products are through a simple image ad. However, running image ads tends to make searches for your brand name skyrocket. If you’re bidding on cheap brand name terms (or better yet, have a strong SEO presence), then you could easily get a lot of valuable traffic for very little using the few-click CPC image ad model combined with cheap brand name keyword bids. It’s definitely worth a try, especially if you’re struggling to get yourself known on the internet.