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If Banner Ads Are Dead, What's Next?

Much was made of MSNBC.com's decision to relaunch its web page with 30 new ad formats - none of which were banner ads. As it turned out, the site is carrying banner ads, albeit in a different form.

Still, though, the episode is telling: banner ads, at least in their current incarnation or label, are on the way out - or moving into their next stage of evolution, as several marketing executives told MarketingVox.

But evolving to what?

The large-format ads that MSNBC apparently has replaced banner ads with are one option, says Lorrie Thomas, CEO of The Marketing Therapist.  "A large format ad is merely an evolved banner (or display ad) that addresses common "banner burnout" that occurs when ad placement becomes to stagnant." It also gives MSNBC a new large ad format to promote and sell to advertisers. "Online sales departments live and die by the inventory they have to sell," she says. "Having a new "sexy" large format ad to talk up and sell gives their media kit a facelift and a reason to get on the horn with advertisers to upsell and resell the new space."

Indeed Ben Dehan, CEO of Foodbuzz, an online food community, notes that larger format ads have been becoming more prevalent over the last two years. "Leaderboards and skyscrapers are no longer considered premium. And while wide skyscrapers and medium rectangles are now considered premium, you have to wonder how much longer that will go on for." Dehan’s best guess? Dynamic content ads will increasingly replace static ads going forward.

Redefine, Redefine

Marketers are redefining banner ads in many different ways, says Keith Kochberg, CEO of iMarketing LTD.  "People have been saying banner ads are dead for a long time. That can be misleading unless you better clarify what you are calling "a banner ad". We use the term display advertising to mean visual ads on websites. That can be a static image, animated gif, flash creative, expandable unit, etc. They evolve over time but should continue to play a role for many years to come."

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