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Banner advertising is currently the most popular form of advertising on the web. While there is much debate about the effectiveness and appropriateness, researchers predict on-line advertising will be a $5 billion market by the year 2000. A brief discussion on this topic certainly makes sense.

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Here are 12 effective tips that all the experts agree will increase your click-through ratio:

1) Bigger Is Better
Wider ad banners, typically either 468 pixels or 500 pixels wide, are clicked on significantly more than smaller ones. Larger banner ads (in terms of pixels, not bytes) are better than smaller banner ads.

2) Refresh Ad Banners Often
Several studies have been conducted that show ad banners drop off in click-throughs after several days, but when a new banner appears, the click-through rate jumps. Yahoo claims that banners burn out after two weeks.

3) Feature a Call To Action
Yahoo, and I/Pro both tell us to have a call to action in the banner. The phrase "Click Here!" is a good example and can dramatically boost response.

4) Create Urgency
"Last chance" or other time dependent phrases will prompt users to click now or forever hold their peace.

5) Use the Word "FREE!"
Any promotional incentive that offers value or using words like "Free!" will induce users to click on the banner. Of course only use such terms if you actually offer free incentive and if you do not, you may consider adding an information section or offering some kind of free services related to your target demographic. This way, when you market your site, you will have something more to market than just your products.

6) Animated Banners Are Noticed More
Motion naturally attracts attention; however, if it is located on a page that a user would dwell on for an extended period of time, the animation can be more annoying than beneficial.

7) Link the Banner To a Specific Page, Not the Homepage
Nobody wants to plow through a corporate home page to get to what they want to see. Link them directly to the advertising offer or create a transition Web page that will lead them down the sales cycle.

8) Clear Banner Design and Communication
Write the book. Don't follow it. Use simple, distinctive design that compels visitors to explore, discover, and be part of your vision.

9) Match Your Message to Your Targeting
Make sure your banner is targeted. Banners attached to keywords get much better results.

10) Brand Appropriately
If the banner is for a new product/service of an existing brand, don't put the brand on; people may think they know everything already and not click through

11) Certain Truisms Remain True
Intrigue and Sex sell. Used wisely, they can get a high click through for your advertising campaign.

12) Don't Waste Time or Money on Contests
Research shows that contest banners don't pull any better

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