ReTargeter Blog

Attacking Bad Banners: Das Banner

Welcome to the second installment of our banner makeover series.  Here’s how it works: we take a bad banner found somewhere around the web, tear it apart, and then make it over.  Last time, we tore apart a truly atrocious banner.  For this installment, we decided to opt for a less extreme example.

This banner, which appeared on a Volkswagen enthusiast website, is far from atrocious, but it’s also far from perfect.  There are three primary flaws holding it back:

Tiny Text

The type in this ad is extremely small and difficult to read.  Good banners demand little effort from the viewer.  They present the minimum amount of information required to elicit a response and they do so in an easily digestible fashion.  In this regard, this banner fails. The copy is concise, but the fact that the text is so difficult to read will lead many viewers to skip right past it without taking in any relevant information.

Wasted Real Estate

Banner ads are small.  Every pixel should be employed effectively, and a full third of this banner is essentially being wasted.  The white section on the right hand side featuring the tagline ‘Be good to your car’ is doing very little work, and yet it takes up a full third of the ad space.  It’s important to note that this ad appeared on a Volkswagen enthusiast website, in front of a highly targeted audience.  It is unlikely that this ad would have showed up there by accident, particularly since it is for a Volkswagen accessory.   It is safe to assume that this ad placement was probably a part of a targeted ad buy focused on sites like the one where it was discovered.  Branding is always important, but this banner should show rather than merely describe the brand.  The viewer is not only familiar with Volkswagen, but has probably bought from them before, and more than that, is an enthusiast.

Failure to Showcase Key Features

If you follow this ad to the landing page, it takes you here.

Volkswagen lets you create custom covers for your vehicle, which you can customize online using this tool (which is, admittedly, pretty fun to play with).  The copy for this banner does call out that these car covers are ‘custom-made,’ but this feature is not sufficiently highlighted.

Here’s how we would have advertised this product:

Though we usually aren’t flash advocates (we generally see little difference in performance between flash and static banners) we think this ad was a perfect candidate for flash.   Utilizing flash allows us to showcase one of the primary features of the car cover: the customization.

This ad shows, rather than simply telling, the viewer that the covers it advertises are fully customizable.  We predict that viewers would be better able to gather that information from this banner.

In addition to adding animation, we’ve made some other updates to comply with banner ad best practices:

Improved Use of Space and Readability

Not a pixel is wasted in this ad.  By scrapping the white space devoted to the ‘be good to your car’ tagline, we’re able to dedicate more space to what’s important here: the product.

Removing the superfluous white space also allowed us to use larger, more readable text.  Viewers of this ad will be more likely to actually read the copy and will be more able to take in meaning from the ad.

The combination makes for an ad that celebrates the product visually, and uses concise, readable, informative copy to efficiently explain it.


Let us know what you think in the comments!  Have you seen another bad banner recently?




Case Study – Watters

Watters Logo | ReTargeter

Watters is the brainchild of designer Vatana Watters. For over 30 years, it has been the leader in offering luxurious designer bridal gowns, innovative bridesmaids dresses, classic special occasion dresses for mothers of the wedding, and adorable dresses for flower girls and junior bridesmaids around the world. Selling primarily at trunk shows and in third-party […]

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