A History of the Banner Ad Campaign
by April on July 1st, 2011
They’re everywhere: along the sidebar of your e-mail page, on top of news sites, and all over facebook—catered to your listed interests and from the popularity of friends. As one of the Internet’s oldest marketing techniques, you almost glaze over them, so used to their presence. But despite their influx they still work, having been refined throughout the many years since the banner ad campaign was first developed.
It all began in the 1980’s, when a small online service called Prodigy developed the idea to advertise online. Owned by Sears and IBM, it decided to take advantage of this new technology and try to promote Sears products. The Internet hardly had more than a handful of regular users, so the first web banners were simplistic, didn’t interact with people, and didn’t even link to another site. But the concept was monumental: a tiny, inexpensive image that got a company’s name out there.
Prodigy failed to expand its idea, but competitors like AOL and a company called Global Network Navigator began developing clickable web displays. Visiting one website, a quick click on a web banner would carry people over to another, weaving through the Internet to create an actual web. Sites suddenly interlinked, and for years the value of a banner ad campaign was judged on the amount of clicks it received. We know now that tracking method doesn’t account for actual results, so modern web banners are deemed successful based on ad response, rather than simple ad clicks. They used to work at mostly interconnecting sites; they’re now essential tools in generating true interest by drawing in real customers and clients.