What is a banner? Definition and types

You come across banners every day, you probably even curse them sometimes, they annoy you, they get in the way of smooth browsing, they distract you from what really interests you, and they are ALWAYS there. But it’s very likely that what you hate today will turn out to be your greatest ally tomorrow, and together you will achieve the goals you set for yourselves.

However, before you get there, you’ve got quite a road to travel together. If you follow these lines, by the end you will be one step closer to loving them, and even if you don’t become a banner lover, you will understand their purpose and be more welcoming towards them.
So, let’s get down to business.

What is a banner?

A banner is a term that refers to a type of advertising space that is inserted in different websites. It is usually an audiovisual element made up of images, animations, videos, etc. A few – perhaps the most annoying ones – even include an audio clip. They are interactive elements that the user can click on, and which will take them to a website or landing page for the service they are advertising. It’s very important that they are linked to an appropriate landing page that is designed to retain those volatile clicks. Here’s an article to read if you want to know more about what an effective landing page should include.

Banners can be located on your own website to direct users to a specific section and/or inform them of an offer/service, or they can be placed on a different website. The objective of these elements is to encourage someone browsing another website to visit yours because they are interested in the service or product that they have seen in the banner.

The first banner in history


History of banner

The first documented banner was created in 1994 by the company AT&T who put it online on the website HotWired.com with the aim of promoting museums and artworks.

The banner is an indispensable element if you are thinking of investing in online advertising. You may ask yourself why a website other than your own would want to allow you to promote yourself there. The answer is simple – they do it for money.

Hosting your banner will bring economic benefits, because every time someone clicks on it, the host will receive an agreed amount of money, thus monetizing their space. That‘s the reason why many websites, blogs, repositories, etc. are packed with elements like these because they help to finance the activity of these websites.

However, it’s also worth asking the opposite question – why would you want to take your banner to another website? The answer is obvious enough: because a particular site may be visited by hundreds of potential customers who do not know your brand or service and who would otherwise remain unaware of you. For this reason, it is vital to know your potential customer or ‘buyer persona’ and to find out where they usually surf, what interests they have, and how to find them.

In reference to the type of agreement between the company that wants to advertise, or the owner of the banner, and the website that hosts the banner, two main groups can be established. In the first minority group, the two parties reach a commercial agreement.

The host website hires out a specific space to the advertiser and in this agreement, the cost, duration, etc. are established. In the second, larger, group, the advertiser establishes its budget, audience interests, and the type of website it wants to advertise on, and a third company manages the placement of the ads according to this budget and based on a bidding system.

The host website, for its part, cedes its advertising space to the third party to manage it. In this second group, Google is the main company that manages the advertisements, and the service is called display advertising.

Types of banners

Different types and sizes of banners

This is a complicated question because, given the frenetic pace of developments on the Internet, the definition of existing types of banners can prove tricky, so we’re adopting the saying “not everything that matters is here, but everything that’s here matters”. At Freepik we offer you hundreds of banner templates in different sizes that you can customize and adapt to your needs.

A banner is any image format that serves the purposes explained above, however, the original banner was designed at 468×60 pixels.

With the evolution of the Internet and the appearance of increasingly large screens and higher bandwidths, banners have evolved and now host more attractive compositions.

Many of these formats have inherited their names from the advertising formats of physical newspapers and magazines, such as the page stealer (300×250 pixels), the leaderboard (728×90 pixels), the skyscraper (a vertical design, usually in 160×600 format), or the billboard (large size, 970×250 pixels).

In addition to these “classic” banners, there are many other special formats such as interstitial banners, which are displayed full screen as pop-ups. Users must close them to continue viewing the rest of the content of the website they are visiting. This banner format is considered very invasive by users and Google has been penalizing them since 2017, so we don’t recommend using them.

Rich Media Banners use rich formats that work with new technologies to include dynamic content. They allow the user to interact with videos, animations, forms, etc.

How to make a banner?

Tips to make a good Banner

An attractive banner must transmit professionalism, but it must also attract attention. As these are small formats which, best case, will only attract the user’s attention for a few seconds, it’s not advisable to overload them too much.

  • You must have a clear, specific objective.
  • Focus them on the right audience, after identifying their specific characteristics such as gender, age, tastes, interests, browsing behavior, etc.
  • Design a clear and direct message with a call to action: Click here, see now, download now…
  • Use A/B testing by designing several tests for the same banner, simply by changing texts, images, and order of the elements.
  • Ensure harmonious, contrasted, and creative design, whether static or dynamic, where interactivity and the possibility for the user to have fun are more and more important.

Banners have to be updated and must respond to promotional and temporary needs. It doesn’t make much sense to have a stable banner throughout the year, but rather it’s better to link it to the current events of the moment.

4th of july banner

For example, at this time of the year, websites are full of stars and stripes flags because of the approaching 4th of July holiday in the United States. At Freepik we can help you with many resources to celebrate the American Independence Day.