Banner Exchanges – Are They Useful?

    December 4, 2003

For those who don’t know, a banner exchange is a service that offers to show your banner ad on other sites if you show their ads on your’s. They often have thousands of sites in their networks so you can get your banner shown in a lot of places. They will offer an “exchange” rate – the most common is probably 2:1. This means that for every two banners you show on your site, they will show one of your’s on other peoples. You can get better exchange rates such as 4:3 or 5:4.

On the surface, they seem like a good idea and, because they are free to join, there is no real need to be critical. However, it’s important that you have a good idea of the kind of response that you are likely to receive.

For a new site, they are pretty pointless. If you taken into account that you are likely to receive a 1% clkick through rate on your banner (and it will usually be much less) then they are not going to drive any traffic to your site. Using the above exchange rate of 2:1 you would need to show 200 banners on your site to get one new visitor – showing 200 banners earns you 100 of your’s shown and at a 1% click through rate, that’s one visitor. Let’s say you get 50 000 pageviews per month on your site, you would get your banner shown 25 000 times on other sites and get 250 new visitors. This looks OK but a 1% click through rate is often hard to achieve so this should be treated as a maximum.

The other issue is that Banner Exchanges are often not very well targeted. This means that your banner may not be shown on sites that match your’s. Therefore, the visitors you do get may just be surfers rather than potential clients. Most Banner Exchanges these days do offer some form of targeting but it’s never going to be as targeted as it would be if you just approached a site and offered to exchange banners at a 1:1 rate.

Having said all that, they do have some good points. Firstly, they are free which is always a good thing. Secondly, they will get you a bit of extra traffic assuming you already have some. Thirdly, they do offer some value in terms of branding – even though only one person in a hundred may click on the banner, many more will actually see it and, if you have a good banner, remember your name.

To sum up, Banner Exchanges are of value as part of your overall marketing strategy but are generally not the way to “get your site going”.

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Sean Burns is the author of the Newsletter – More than five years of experience in site design, marketing, income generation, search engine optimisation and more is passed on to subscribers – hype free. Sign up today to get real information of real value to webmasters.