What are the Standard Banner Ad Sizes?
When it comes to online advertising, what you don’t know might kill you. Or at least send all your profit into an expense vortex, never to be heard from again.
Today, we’re talking about the most popular form of cyber marketing on the planet - strategically placed website ads.
You know them. You love them. You’ve probably clicked on a few million during your browsing lifetime. They appear on just about every website known to humanity.
Can you guess why? Because they work.
But don’t go into this blindfolded. Not every web ad is created equal.
Certain standard ad sizes have been shown to draw eyes like flies to the message being displayed.
Are you worried because you’re not an advertising genius?
Don’t worry. After reading the following, you’ll be able to confidently whip out your wallet and order up a round of ads that has potential customers so eager to click they’ll need an extra mouse for their other hand.
Medium Rectangle (300x250)
Like Elvis is (was) the King of Rock and Roll, so is the 300x250 medium rectangle the top dog when it comes to standard effective banner ad sizes.
This advertising workhorse comprises a full one-third of all ads served by Google.
Ad effectiveness is judged by an acronym those in the industry like to use called CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions). Nothing complicated about it. It’s just a shorthand way to calculate how much an advertiser such as yourself, will be charged for every one thousand impressions of a particular ad, displayed on a particular website.
Placement of your 300x250 medium rectangle is critical! The phrase “above the fold” is old newspaper parlance that has been adopted by online advertisers.
It simply means that the ad shows up on the part of the website that is immediately viewable. No scrolling necessary. Ads placed “above the fold” tend to command higher CPMs as they are deemed more valuable, due to the higher likelihood that they will be seen by more website visitors.
Another thing to keep in mind. As tempting as it might be to splatter these ads all over the page, studies show that only the first one in a line of medium rectangles performs well. Keep this in mind. Top placement is best.
Leaderboard Rules (728x90)
Coming in a close-as-a-whisker second in the standard ad size sweepstakes is the 728x90 leaderboard. This banner size attracts 32 percent of all Google ads served. The leaderboard and medium rectangle are so close in popularity and effectiveness that it’s a disservice to call one better than the other. Flip a coin.
Better yet, track the results of both sizes in your marketing campaigns.
An effective way to do this is via an A/B split test. An A/B test is a fancy term that means testing both ad options over the same timeframe by serving alternate ads using the same target audience. By recording the clicks on each ad over a set period of time you can determine the ad that performs best.
Other factors that will affect this result are the type of product/service itself, as well as the industry associated with the product/service. As a result, testing is vitally important. The bottom line when it comes to advertising in any form is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
The 728x90 leaderboard is a tried and true staple in online marketing. You typically can’t click twice without seeing one of these beauties pop up across the top of a page. Its width makes it hard for any set of eyes to miss.
The Wide Skyscraper (160x600)
There is a drop-off from the medium rectangle and leaderboard to the skyscraper, though this 160x600 size still accounts for 13 percent of all Google ads served. It is not an insignificant number and might turn out to be an effective weapon in your marketing arsenal.
As one might surmise from the dimensions, a skyscraper ad’s typical placement is in a page’s sidebar.
As with all your ads, try to get above the fold placement for maximum effectiveness. Despite the fact that the wide skyscraper ranks below the medium rectangle and leaderboard in use, don’t be afraid to test it. Good placement on all sizes of ads can bring great results.
The Best of the Rest…
After these three ad sizes, the water gets murkier. The following four sizes draw approximately the same amount of Google serves, with the banner (468x60) performing slightly better than the regular skyscraper, rectangle, and micro bar, all of which check in at about 2 percent. Still, it’s worth knowing that they’re out there.
For those who don’t like to spend their every waking moment consumed with minor math problems, we’ll save you the effort.
The 468x60 banner is one-half the width of the uber-popular leaderboard. Though only pulling in 3 percent of Google ads served, it’s not a bad choice if you can’t find leaderboard availability.
“Regular” Skyscraper (120x600)
We’ve already talked about the popularity of the wide skyscraper, which falls just outside the Big Three sizes in popularity. Though less effective than its wider cousin, the regular skyscraper can be a good option when there isn’t room to expand to the 160-pixel width. At two percent of Google ads served, this version of the skyscraper lands on our list slightly behind the banner ad.
We include the rectangle in the discussion because it has shown the fastest growth rate (70 percent) among the top 10 ad sizes. It’s probably too early to say definitively why this is. Probably a combination of price and placement flexibility. Regardless, keep an eye on this size. You might even want to include it early in the testing phase.
Micro Bar (88x31)
There is no other way to say it. The micro bar is tiny. But this junior size ad still accounts for 2 percent of Google serves. Considering all the other sizes jumbled up and fighting for recognition below it, let’s not dismiss this one just yet.
While the reality is that three standard ad sizes (300x250, 728x90, and 160x600) comprise the bulk of ads served on the Internet today, advertisers should keep in mind there are a variety of other sizes available.
Check out this great resource for an exhaustive listing of all the standard sizes available through Advertise World.
Don’t do yourself the disservice of pre-judging which works best for your business until you’ve tried a variety. I can’t stress this enough. Test, test, test! You really can’t say anything with certainty until you’ve seen it perform under real world conditions.
I’ve just highlighted the seven most popular standard banner ad sizes. These account for 87 percent of Google ad serves. You should at least be aware that there are plenty of standard and non-standard ad sizes sitting off stage in a jumbled mess. Is one of them right for you? Maybe.
You never know until you try. We suggest starting with these seven first. If the effectiveness of these ads leaves you unsatisfied, it might be time to try an outsider.
One to keep an eye on is the 970x90 leaderboard. With screen sizes increasing, this “super” leaderboard might become a player in the near future.
Another outsider choice is the 320x100 large mobile banner, which has been optimised to perfection for mobile phone viewing. Mobile phones aren't going away anytime soon. If you suspect the majority of your ads will be seen on handheld devices, this might be a good choice.
Good luck out there!