Many of you are in the business of publishing your own website, advertising on other websites, or both. And banner ads are still a major part of  online marketing.

In the early days of the internet, people worried primarily about generating as much traffic to their websites as possible. They’d line up to place their banner ads on other popular websites just to get traffic to their own sites. And, they’d pay by the click!

You’d see counters on websites touting the thousands of clicks people were getting. However, we soon discovered that clicks are certainly nice, but conversions are what matter.

Experiment and test

Assuming you have an ad agency or graphics provider supplying you with your banner ads, they most likely will send you several ideas to consider. You may be able to instinctively guess which of the ads will lead to the most conversions, but why not experiment with several and test for the most successful?

The success of Net Applications has been due in a large part to our partner base. With over 12,000 partners, we have seen numerous banner ads with varying messages all designed to generate traffic and conversions. Some are conservative, others edgy. Some tie into the partner’s content, while others stand alone. Some partners have been more successful than we’d have ever imagined, while others with tons of traffic and lofty expectations ended up not meeting those expectations. We do see a trend however: the people who experiment and test are able to optimize their conversion rates. So, maybe one ad generates 10,000 clicks compared to another that generates 8000. If the conversions from the second ad are more than from the first, you have yourself a winner!

How to test

If your goal is to find the most effective banner ad, it’s important to keep everything else the same. Meaning, you shouldn’t test different banners, calls to action, incentive programs, landing pages, target websites, display times, website content, or other factors simultaneously. How will you know which change to which factor was truly important? Stick to one test at a time. Try several banners, and simply tag the links on the banner ads with different tags. Then, with a live analytics solution like HitsLink, you can immediately see the results of your testing.




Allow yourself enough data gathering to be able to make a qualified decision. You may find that more than one banner can be effective, and decide to continue to rotate them. Or, you may find that one is a clear conversion winner.

Optimize your banner conversions, and then move on to the next factor!

For a free HitsLink Analytics trial, go to

To learn more about Net Applications Partner Programs, go to Partners

© 2011