Banner Ads, Conference Websites, and the Meeting Marketer

Online internet banner with text “YOUR AD HERE” on a web page. Web page with all pictures and informations are created by contributor himself.

You are about to read a post about banner ads so I will forgive you for thinking that I have lost my flipping mind. I would not blame you for questioning my sanity, but not for this post… This post is legit.

Unless you were born yesterday, under a rock, or in the wilds of Borneo, you are probably familiar with the traditional uses for banner ads on a website. For example, if you get your local news online, you might see an ad for the car dealer over on Ash Street or if you are an avid celebrity-hound you might see an ad for that sexy time pill or that cruise to Jamaica mon… heck, the two might even go together, but we are not even gonna go there cause this ain’t that kinda site…

For those of you born in the wilds of Borneo, banner ads work pretty much the way that they got their name. It is an ad, in the form of a graphic banner, that appears on a website. You will see a couple over to the right on this very site. You click the ad and it takes you to the advertiser. Pretty simple. But what in the hell does this have to do with your conference website and what can an event or conference marketer (or even an association marketer) do with these normally annoying pixel blocks on their own websites.

The answer is, a whole lot.
Let me explain…
The primary purpose of your conference website is to inform and I am hoping that the people that you want to inform are your target audience and your target audience is full of people you want to attend your event. So far, so good. These people that are visiting your website and your event are also the target market of a lot of people inside and outside of your organization and these people want to reach those people and banner ads are a good way to do this and they can make your organization money in one of two ways. Passive income and direct income. See long run on sentences can be profitable if you stick with it.
Direct Income
Most websites that are not your conference site, make their money through advertising and they make direct income. There are many ways that they do this such as pay per click, through the number of impressions an ad receives, and a thousand other advertising terms but in this case, our meaning is a pretty simple affair. You can offer it as a sponsorship. A sponsor gives you a sum of money for an ad and you run it for whatever length of time you think is fair… Basic and effective.
Passive Income
The other way, which is highly underrated in my opinion, is passive income. By placing an ad on your website, money comes from somewhere else. For example, Company A wants to be a platinum level sponsor but they are being stubborn and just won’t sign until they get “one more wafer-thin mint”, one more little perk. A banner ad can be the thing. You can offer them 3 months of banners running on the conference or association site. Now, it costs you nothing but bam… this little block of color just brought in a ton of money.
Another passive way that banners can bring in funds is from inside of your organization…
In Organization Banner Ads
Let’s say you are having a special awards dinner that you want people to register for. Would it not be useful to be able to promote this on the event website? Have someone create a nice banner that advertises the event right on the homepage. Now people won’t have to think about it when they get to the registration page. They will already be informed and ready to click “hell yes I will attend”.
You can also create banners that talk about your keynote or a special session that you want to highlight and link to the information page. Clever… And it only gets better. Having another event six months from now? Put a banner for the new event on the confirmation page (after people are done registering). There is nothing wrong with this, it is done everywhere else on the web so people expect it, and because it is for something useful people won’t think that it is cheesy… Unlike ads for vitamin supplements and earning extra income by licking stamps.
The but….because there is always a but…  
Since people are used to ads, some will question if attendees or members will even click on them. The honest answer is NO. They probably won’t click on them and that is OK because we are not using ads in the traditional sense. You are not using them for direct effect. You are not “selling” a widget. You want impressions. You want people to remember to sign up for the awards dinner, check out the next event, or know that ABC Corp is the Platinum-all-sprinkled-with-magic-dust sponsor. Clicking is not the point. Impressions and recognition are the only points.
Kinda like a billboard on the highway, you don’t click on them but they work or WABC and WeatherTech wouldn’t spend that much money on them.
Oh, and if you are on the cheap and can’t afford to have someone create banner ads for you? Check out our post on Canva… It is a good way to get started!
Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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