While banners are like billboards, native ads tend to be more text-heavy and interest-provoking. Just as these formats differ, what makes them successful differs as well. Below, we answer the question of which creative approaches are best suited for these formats?

Both native ads and banners are popular, easy and reliable ways to engage audiences online. However, native ads match the surrounding environment and are perceived as part of the website, whereas banners are meant to stand out. A common mistake marketers make is disregarding these nuances and putting the same visuals, copies and other creative materials for both native and display ad campaigns.

What are Banner Ads: Bright, Catchy and Direct

Banner ads are a common form of online advertising that is displayed on websites as graphics, usually at the top, bottom or sides of a web page. They consist of images, text and sometimes interactive elements, aiming to capture the attention of users and promote a product, service or brand. Banner ads can be static or animated, and they often include a call-to-action that encourages users to click and engage.

This format always uses a direct-selling approach: ads offer something to buy or sign up for right away. For example, you can showcase and offer your product to potential customers or retarget your website visitors with special discounts.

Pro tip: When working with this form of advertising, advertisers have to bet high on their visuals. Only when an image is visually-pleasing and eye-catching, can it bring clicks. To grab attention, banners have to look sharp, colorful and well-designed. The headline should also be brief, oversized and catchy. For maximum performance, it is recommended to include call-to-action buttons featuring non-trivial action-packed texts, such as ‘reserve’, ‘try’, ‘visit’ and so on.

Types Of Banner Ads

There are various types of banner ads, each designed to serve specific advertising goals and fit different placements. Here are some common types:

  1. Standard banners: These are the most common of banner ads, usually in rectangular or square formats. Standard banners come in various sizes, such as 300x250, 728x90 and 160x600 pixels.
  2. Leaderboard banners: Leaderboard banners are wider and shorter than standard banners, typically measuring 728x90 pixels. They are often placed at the top of web pages.
  3. Skyscraper banners: Skyscraper banners are tall and narrow, usually measuring 160x600 or 120x600 pixels. They are commonly placed on the sides of web pages.
  4. Medium rectangle banners: As the name suggests, medium rectangle banners are rectangle-shaped, typically measuring 300x250 pixels. They are versatile and can be placed throughout a web page's content.
  5. Large rectangle banners: Larger than medium rectangles, these banners measure 336x280 pixels and offer more visibility and space for ad content.
  6. Full-page banners: Full-page banners, also known as interstitial ads, cover the entire screen of a website or app and require users to interact or manually close them in order to proceed to the web page.
  7. Expandable banners: Expandable banners start small and then expand when users interact with them. They can provide more content without taking up too much space initially.
  8. Pop-up banners: Pop-up banners open in a new window or tab, often triggered by a user action like clicking a link or button.
  9. Floating banners: Floating banners move across the screen as users scroll down a webpage, ensuring continued visibility.

Mobile banner ads have roughly the same classification: standard, interstitial, expandable, floating, swipeable, and others.

Pros And Cons Of Banner Ads

The main advantages of banner advertising are:

  1. Brand visibility. Banner ads offer high visibility as they are typically placed in prominent positions on websites or within mobile apps. They can effectively increase brand awareness by reaching a wide audience and attracting attention with visually appealing designs.
  2. Targeted reach. Banner ads can be targeted to specific demographics, interests or behaviors, allowing advertisers to reach their desired audience. This targeted approach helps increase the relevance of the ad, potentially leading to higher engagement and conversions.
  3. Cost-effectiveness. Compared to other types of advertising, banner ads can be cost-effective, especially when considering the potential reach and impressions they generate. Advertisers have control over their budget and can optimize campaigns based on performance.

However, there are also some disadvantages:

  1. Banner blindness. With the prevalence of banner ads across the internet, users have developed banner blindness, where they consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like elements on websites. This can lead to lower click-through rates and reduced effectiveness of the ad.
  2. Ad blockers. Many internet users install ad-blocking software to avoid intrusive ads, including banner ads. This can significantly limit the ad's reach and render it ineffective for a portion of the target audience.
  3. Limited space and creativity. Banner ads are confined to limited space, which can restrict the amount of information or creativity that can be conveyed. Advertisers need to carefully design and optimize their banner ads to make the most impact within the given space.

What are Native Ads: Unintrusive and Narrative

Native ads are a form of online advertising that blends seamlessly with its surrounding content. In the "banner ads vs native ads" debate, the latter have an obvious advantage: they match the website design and layout, which allows them to receive more user attention and overcome banner blindness. According to Native Advertising Institute, consumers look at native ads 53% more often than banner ads.

Each native advertisement consists of a title and a thumbnail image, and sometimes a call-to-action button is added. In most cases, ad creatives are placed in publisher content that is contextually relevant. So, the creatives you use need to be compelling, engaging users to click on them; however, make sure they don't mislead consumers or disrupt their online experience.

With native ads, marketers can tell their brands’ stories in the way brands want them to be told. Usually, advertisers create entertaining presale content to help customers discover the benefits or motivate them to try the advertised product. Typically, this presale content is in the form of an advertorial article, interactive quiz or an advertorial with an interactive twist.

In content-first, soft-selling native campaigns, you should always create a narrative to explain the value of your brand. You can use storytelling in several ways:

  • sharing success stories;
  • portraying the product’s ability to solve a problem;
  • depicting the positive impacts of the product.

Pro tip: When aiming for more clicks and conversions, focus on creating unusual experiences for users and emotionally resonant stories. Addressing the reader as “you” and using emotional triggers suitable for your advertising message can also increase CTR.

Types Of Native Ads

The specific types and formats of native ads may vary depending on the advertising platform, publisher or industry. We offer the following list, which includes the most common and ubiquitous types of native advertising:

  1. In-feed ads. These ads seamlessly blend in with the content feed of a website or app. They mimic the style and format of the surrounding content, appearing as natural recommendations or suggested articles.
  2. Recommendation widgets. These are widgets that typically appear at the end of articles or webpages, suggesting related content or sponsored recommendations based on the user's interests and browsing behavior.
  3. Sponsored content. This type of native ad involves creating branded content that aligns with the publisher's editorial style and provides value to the target audience. It can take the form of articles, videos, infographics or interactive content.

Pros And Cons Of Native Ads

The advantages of native advertising are obvious:

  1. Seamless integration. Native ads blend in with the surrounding content, providing a natural and non-disruptive ad experience. They match the style, format and context of the platform, making them less intrusive and more engaging for users.
  2. Increased user engagement. Native ads have been shown to generate higher user engagement compared to traditional banner ads. By seamlessly integrating into the user experience, native ads are more likely to capture the attention of users and encourage interaction, such as clicks, likes, shares or comments.
  3. Improved ad performance. Native ads often deliver better performance metrics, including higher click-through and conversion rates. The relevance and contextual placement of native ads contribute to their effectiveness in capturing audience attention and driving desired actions.

The disadvantages are much less obvious, but objectively they are:

  1. Potential for deception. Native ads, when not clearly labeled or distinguishable from organic content, can create confusion among users. If native ads are perceived as deceptive or misleading, they can harm the credibility and trust of both the publisher and the advertiser.
  2. Limited creative freedom. The seamless integration of native ads means that there are constraints on the design and format. Advertisers may have to compromise on certain elements of their creative vision to ensure alignment with the platform and maintain a native feel.
  3. Difficulty in scaling campaigns. Native ads often require customization for each platform or publisher, making it challenging to scale campaigns across multiple channels. Advertisers may need to invest more time and resources in creating and managing native ads compared to more standardized ad formats.

Banner Ads vs Native Ads: Comparison Table

Aspect Native Ads Banner Ads
Integration Seamlessly blends with content Separate visual elements or sections
User experience Unintrusive, native look and feel More visually prominent, potentially interruptive
Format Customized to match platform's style and format Standardized banner sizes and designs
Engagement Higher engagement due to contextual relevance Lower engagement, can suffer from banner blindness
Platforms Websites, social media, mobile apps Websites, apps, email newsletters
Targeting More precise targeting based on interests Targeting options based on demographics or context
Tracking Advanced analytics when working with ad platforms Robust tracking and analytics available
Brand awareness Subtle brand exposure within relevant content Immediate brand visibility and recognition
Call to action Typically embedded within the content Clearly displayed CTA prompts
CTR High (average 0.5%) Low (average 0.1%)
Viewability High (53% more than banner ads) Lower than native ads

Tips for Optimizing Banner and Native Ads

Our native ads vs banner ads comparison would be incomplete if we didn't provide some tips and tricks for working with these types of ads.

Banner Ads: Attention to Detail and Strategic Planning

Check out the proven tips for optimizing your banner ad campaigns:

  1. Clearly define your goals. Determine the specific objectives of your banner ad campaign. Whether it's driving website traffic, increasing conversions or promoting a new product, having clear goals will help you create targeted and focused ads.
  2. Choose the right ad size. Select banner ad sizes that are popular and widely supported across various platforms and websites. Common sizes include 300x250, 728x90 and 160x600 pixels. Use responsive designs to ensure your ads display well on different screen sizes.
  3. Use high-quality visuals. Use eye-catching and high-resolution images or graphics in your banner ads. Make sure the visuals are relevant to your message and brand identity.
  4. Write compelling copy. Craft concise and compelling ad copy that conveys your message effectively. Use a strong call-to-action (CTA) to encourage users to take the desired action.
  5. Conduct A/B testing. Conduct A/B testing with different ad variations to identify what resonates best with your target audience. Test different visuals, copy, CTAs and colors to optimize performance.
  6. Pay attention to mobile optimization. Ensure your banner ads are mobile-friendly and load quickly on mobile devices. Mobile optimization is crucial, especially when you consider the increasing number of users accessing the web on smartphones and tablets.
  7. Optimize ad placement. Choose strategic ad placements on websites and platforms that align with your target audience. Consider websites or apps where your audience is likely to be present and engaged.
  8. Monitor performance. Track the performance of your banner ads regularly. Analyze metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate and engagement to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns.
  9. Perform retargeting. Implement retargeting strategies to reach users who have previously shown interest in your products or have visited your website. Retargeting can help increase conversions and drive more return on investment (ROI).
  10. Provide ad compliance. Ensure your banner ads adhere to advertising guidelines and regulations. Avoid using misleading or deceptive content that may violate ad policies.
  11. Ensure frequency capping. Avoid bombarding users with the same ad repeatedly. Set frequency caps to limit the number of times a user sees the same ad within a specific time frame.

Native Ads: Valuable Information and Transparency

Work with native advertising effectively by applying the following tips:

  1. Understand your audience. Know your target audience and their preferences to create native ads that resonate with them. Tailor your content to match the platform's tone and style.
  2. Ensure native format integration. Ensure your native ads seamlessly integrate with the look and feel of the platform where they appear. Avoid disrupting the user experience with intrusive or irrelevant content.
  3. Provide value. Focus on delivering valuable and relevant content that educates or entertains your audience. The more useful the content, the more likely users will engage with it.
  4. Practice storytelling. Utilize storytelling techniques to capture users' attention and keep them engaged. Craft a narrative that aligns with your brand message and draws users in.
  5. Provide transparency disclosure. Clearly label your native ads as sponsored or promoted content to maintain transparency and build trust with your audience.
  6. Match advertiser and platform goals. Align your native ads with the goals of both the advertiser and the platform. If the theme of your ad does not match the theme of the platform, you will not see success.
  7. Conduct A/B testing. Testing is indispensable, so conduct it with different ad variations to identify what performs best. Test different headlines, visuals and formats to optimize your native ad campaigns.
  8. Optimize for mobile. Ensure your native ads are mobile-friendly and display well on various devices. Mobile optimization is crucial as a significant portion of users accesses content on mobile devices.
  9. Leverage native video ads. Incorporate native video ads to engage users with compelling visual content. Video ads have proven to be highly effective in capturing users' attention.
  10. Analyze performance metrics. Regularly monitor the performance of your native ad campaigns. Track metrics like click-through rates (CTR), engagement and conversions to assess their effectiveness.
  11. Remember compliance and ethics. Adhere to advertising guidelines and ethical practices when creating native ads. Avoid deceptive or misleading content that could harm your brand's reputation.

Bottom Line

So, native ads vs banner ads? The differences between the two are plenty, and it only makes sense that those differences affect both the sales funnels and creative strategies in use. A good-performing native campaign mixes entertainment and storytelling to capture users’ attention. Banners, on the other hand, do not try to blend into a website, but rather they aim to catch a visitor’s eye and pull them away.

However, no matter what advertising format you choose, you should always think about your end goals. Do you want to make users recall your brand later, revisit products they abandoned in the cart, inspire new audiences to try your product or engage loyal customers with brand content? Regardless of the end goal, native advertising is effective. However, it’s important that you understand it completely. If you are ready to dive into the world of native advertising, we are ready to be your reliable partner. Create an MGID account, and we will spread your message to the right user at the right time to stimulate the right engagement.