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Online Billboards: By Fargo Media

Advertise on The Online Billboards!! Put your logo in
front of your customers!

Welcome to a whole new media experience!

Online Billboards: What Are they?

Often referred to as "online billboards" or "awareness banners," branding banner ads make up most online advertising. Unfortunately, branding is the mostly commonly used and misused form of banner advertising. As such, it is responsible for the majority of failed web ad campaigns and has played a part in the demise of dot-com businesses. Here's why.
First, branding works by creating awareness and a shared emotional commitment to product or service. The brander's goal is to generate a positive feeling from the target audience that motivates them to respond to the brand.
Audience response doesn't need to happen right away because continued branding reinforces audience awareness. It keeps your company's image in the minds of people who might not be ready to act now, but who might take action down the road.
Branding was the first advertising model web ad campaigns tried, taking after traditional models of off-line advertising, such as print, television and radio. Before the click-through model was introduced, before any basic means of banner ad measurement, branding was THE standard ad type.
Big companies with deep pockets were the first to invest in branding ad campaigns. Smaller companies followed suit, mimicking bigger companies.
According to Jupiter Media Metrix, branding is the main campaign strategy for more than half of online advertisers. Today this strategy is commonly used in Web site sponsorship ads and email newsletters.
Some arguments for defending branding banner ad campaigns:
• They rely far less on click-throughs and focus on gaining exposure.
• They can promote off-line purchases.
• It's the best model for generating an emotional response — hopefully, a favorable one — from target audiences.
Branding can communicate to an audience on several levels and is a rewarding long-term ad strategy when used effectively.
Think of your favorite restaurant or TV show as a kind of brand loyalty. A truly great brand, such as Mickey Mouse, can transcend its own industry.
That being said, most companies using branding as a major means of online promotion simply should not be. Here are some of the main reasons behind many dot-com failures:
1. Branding ad campaigns are expensive to build, maintain and measure, and depend on heavy market penetration or reach. This means you need to purchase a large amount of ad space — impressions — over a long period of time with constant exposure. While services such as Engage or DoubleClick can measure results after an initial banner viewing, they are far more costly than analyzing click-through models.

2. Branding takes a long time. Awareness campaigns are the slowest to measure and require a lot of patience to wait for significant results.

3. Branding overemphasizes the emotional response. Often the traditional advertising methods simply don't apply to the Web. People don't use the Internet looking for a relationship with Pepto-Bismol. They want information.
Branding can be used effectively when expectations aren't unrealistic. Most companies don't have the financial means, staff or time to attempt a successful branding ad campaign. That is not to say it can't be accomplished, but it is the riskiest method.
If you still feel up to the challenge, here are some important tips.
1. Your main focus is to create awareness or generate buzz about your company, products or services, or an associated theme. Some branding strategies you may include in the banner: company name, logo, slogan or motto, or image or personality associated with the company.

2. Assess whether you're an established brand name in your field. This statement does not include what you personally think or what your associates or competitors think. This statement indicates your target audience's awareness of your company.

Does your brand have a positive effect on people who already recognize your name? (Positive effects could include bringing in new customers or maintaining a sense of market loyalty with current customers.) If it does, be sure to use it to your benefit. If you aren't sure, partner with someone who already has a good brand.

3. Plan to be around for several years. That's the minimum time it takes for advertisers, especially new ones, to build lasting brand awareness.

4. Purchase relevant ad placements. Find the high-traffic web sites your target audience visits before making a large purchase.

5. Avoid congestion. Watch out for sites with too many graphics, too many competing ads or hardly any open space. Too much clutter lessens the branding impact.

6. Combine branding with a click-through campaign. Combining branding and click-through campaigns will help you measure short-term results.
And don't forget: Your web site makes a more important branding experience than any banner ad can. Be sure to provide good quality and service to reinforce the branding message in your banner ads.

How to make a banner ad.....SUPER

Banner advertising is by far the most popular and widespread form of advertising on the Internet, almost every website has some form of banner advertising on it. There's just no escaping the banner on the net.

Even though we have all read the news about the declining effectiveness of banners on the web, I still believe that with the right 'ingredients' banners can be a good source of visitors and income for most webmasters.

There are four of these ingredients that I'd consider the most important, using all or most of them will always enable you to get a higher click through for your various banners. I'll list them and then continue to discuss each one in a bit more detail.

Small file
Call to action.
Animation
Good ad copy
Fake factor

1.
Small file
This is one of the most important things you have to get right when designing a banner, if the .gif or .jpg file is large it will take a few seconds to download and by then the visitor might have scrolled down the page, meaning he or she doesn't even get to see your banner. If people don't see your banner they definitely are not going to click on it. So make sure your file stays below 10K, 15K at the absolute most, it's sometimes hard to do, but if the others can do it, we can do it too.
2. Call to action
This is one of the easiest ways to increase the CTR (click through rate) of a banner, on this all the experts agree. Using a call to action simply involves having the words 'click here' or some other words such as 'sign up now' or something similar. My thoughts on why using a call to action increases the CTR so much include the fact that there is so much advertising off-line, such as TV, Radio, billboards etc. etc. With advertising on these off-line mediums, target audiences are generally just required to watch or read the ad. All ads online have a link and the purpose is to get people to click on the ad and visit the advertisers website, however with the world being so used to off-line advertising many people just see banners and think that's it, they don't realize that they are actually meant to click on it to find out more. That's way having click here or another call to action improves the effectiveness of a banner.
3. Animation
Banners with moving elements attract the eye a lot more than static banners do. The whole idea of designing banners is to grab attention of website visitors, using small animation help to do this. I say small because I don't want you to go overboard and fill a banner with lots of animation, this is a bad idea because, one it increases file size, and two it is generally annoying to people after a while especially when they are trying to read an article or tutorial. If your banner annoys them, they will most likely just leave without clicking on it.
4. Good ad copy
This one is kind of a given, but you should always include good ad copy in your banner, lots of fancy animation and pictures won't entice them to click, they look after grabing the attention of the visitors. It's the actual text that will get people wanting to check out your product. Try to emphasis the benefits, not features of your product or service. Tell people how your product will make their life easier. Keep your wording short and concise, if you can use words that have be proven to attract people such as 'free','proven' and 'secret' do.
5. Fake factor
Many of the very successful banner ads of late have incorporated some kind of fake elements in them. There are various fake element's banner designers can use, such as fake scroll bars, fake text links, fake selection boxes, fake text boxes, fake submit buttons to mention just a few. Banners with fake elements perform so well because people think there clicking on a link to go to another page on the current site (as in the fake text links) or they think they are click on a button, but in fact they are actually clicking on a banner with a picture of a button and text link.

These fake banners are made using the Print Screen button usually found on the right side of any standard keyboard. Simply open a webpage or application and press 'print scrn' then crop the image around the button or scroll bar area (the area you want to fake) and then paste it into your banner, and that's it, you have fake elements in your banner. Alternatively designers simply draw buttons, scroll bars etc. using their graphics program.
Well there you have it, the five most important pointers to remember when desiging banners. I'd normally end the article now but before we end, I want to talk about targetting your banner. Always, always place your banner on sites that cater for your target audience (ie - the people most likely to buy your product). There's no point putting a banner for a new golf club you sell on a site dedicated to software, visitors to the site simply are not going to be interested and you're just wasting your money. You should be aiming to place the golf banner on golf course websites, sites like PGA.com, generally golf related sites, this way you are much more likely to make money. If you are not exposing your banner to your target audience, none of the above tips and tricks can save you.

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Fargo Media: Small Businesses Need a Logo and Marketing Materials





Fargo Media: Small Businesses Need a Logo and Marketing Materials

Experts urge small business owners to "brand" their businesses with a logo and a set of consistent marketing materials. However, they rarely explain the reasons behind this advice

. Below are some of some of the benefits of a professionally designed logo and identity system:

To look "bigger" and "established." Home-printed business cards or cards printed with Microsoft clipart scream "small-time vendor" to your potential clients — and that is how they will want to compensate you.
To increase your chance of earning venture capital or of selling a business. If you present a well-rounded business package that includes marketing materials and graphics, your business will look more complete.
To attract more clients. Some clients look for a well-defined company, and "look and feel" may be one of their criteria for making a purchasing decision.
To brand yourself. If you are a consultant, you need a logo in order to build an image and a brand that is greater than your individual identity. Be sure to avoid the Top 10 Branding Mistakes.
To convey that you are reputable. A logo and professionally-printed materials show that you are committed to both your business and to your clients.
To give clients a sense of stability. You may not have been in business "since 1908," but if you have invested in your identity, you are more likely to remain firm and relevant in the eyes of your customers. It goes a long way toward building that all-important "trust."
To be more memorable. Forty percent of people better remember what they see than what they hear or read. So to have graphics associated with your business, and to keep those graphics consistent, makes you more likely to be at the forefront of potential clients' minds when they need your goods or services.
To explain your company name. If your company name contains a little-known word or an acronym, the logo can give visual clues to its meaning.
To endear your company name to your clients. A difficult-to-pronounce or hard-to-remember company name makes it challenging for clients to hire you. When potential clients need your services, they may not recall a tricky name. But if you reinforce the name with interesting, compelling graphics, they are more likely to remember you, pick up the phone, and hire you.
To explain an unusual line of business. If your business is nontraditional or in a hard-to-explain industry, a logo can help to clarify exactly what it is that you do.
To differentiate you from your competition. A well-designed logo can have many subtle meanings and can begin to tell the story of how you do business, including the special practices that make you stand apart from the competition.
To stand out in your field. A well-designed logo and an identity system can put you far above the competition, especially when paired with a strong marketing program.
To comply with expectations. In some industries, a logo is just expected. In the creative services industry especially, having a logo is an industry standard.
To show your commitment. Do it for the sense of personal pride that it will add to your practice.

These benefits will boost your business and your confidence, so consider developing a logo and identity as soon as possible.

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