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October 31, 2014
So the Banner Ad Turns 20
They sure grow up fast.

Banner ads were the mark of a new age of advertising. These messages that appeared alongside websites while we were learning or tinkering with web browsing seemed to be attractive more for curiosity than anything else. During the mighty reign of AOL Explorer, Lycos, and the first mainstream browsers, banner ads didn't seem all that bad.

Until everybody started to do it.

Banner ads reached a saturation point (at least in the U.S.) where so many businesses wanted a piece of the action that the saturation point with consumers quickly turned to annoyance.

Think about that. In a mere 20 years, the Internet had to change one of its first and major ways of advertising online. Imagine if TV or radio had to change that quickly. It goes to show how fast the digital landscape is moving, and how quick advertisers and marketers are to adapt.

Now, banner ads have not completely gone away. But with the rise and success of native advertising, their popularity and default use is decreasing at a faster pace.

That's neither good nor bad, but it is certainly a change.

Perhaps with new tools out, advertisers will figure out ways to re-invent the banner ad, making them less intrusive, yet more engaging. Banner ads could be a great way to pull prospective customers to your content, as long as it is something interesting.

Banner ads were the "child stars" of online advertising. Now at age 20, we can't think of them as washed up and done with. They still have more to show.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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