We have heard from a couple nonprofits we work with that banner ads are effective, but neither could explain why. Directly generated revenue isn’t high, but when they were removed from the marketing mix, results fell. A recent comScore study may have an answer . This study found that individuals exposed to banner ads were 72 percent more likely to visit the advertiser’s website within three weeks of exposure, and 92 percent more likely to do a “brand search”. This study was conducted in Europe, so it is not completely analogous to U.S.-based nonprofits, but it is indicative of a larger trend.
According to comScore, the lift in the U.S. is closer to 49 percent in site visitation and 40 percent in searches. The actual percentages are still very small. Only 7.71 percent of individuals exposed to the ad visited the site and 3.27 percent did a search query. It seems total quantity is still very important in banner advertising to generate a significant return. The bigger issue for advertisers is the fact that none of the traffic —or, for the ministries we serve, donations — will be correctly attributed to the banner ad if a donor sees the ad and then later contributes at the ministry website.
This study indicates that we will need to continue to evolve our metrics to be able to better capture the impact of banner advertising on an overall campaign. Even to the point where it may be necessary to suspend banner advertising for a time to see its true impact.