Definition: A rectangular-shaped ad that typically appears at the top of website pages .
Most web advertisers agree that banner ads are an excellent way to get company names and messages in front of the masses, and studies have linked web banners to higher brand awareness and consumers' incentive to buy.
That doesn't mean web banners should be your only online ad channel. Nor are web banners useful for all businesses. One problem is that nobody's really sure what type of businesses web banners are best for. A report by Forrester Research shows advertisers are baffled by the impact of their banner ads and, in particular, are dissatisfied with the methods sites use to track responses. "Media sites and advertisers resoundingly agreed: Ad measurement on the Internet is a mess," the report states. Reasons cited for messy ad tracking includes hyped expectations, a lack of agreement on standards, technology obstacles, and a fragmented ad delivery process.
Online ad agencies and ad software companies are pushing for standards to resolve these issues. In fact, a bona fide movement is underway--specialists are perfecting technology that would measure ads' effectiveness and count the number of click-throughs (people who click on a banner ad to reach an advertiser's site). Soon ad software companies will also be able to track users' demographic and behavioral characteristics.