Banner ads are the commercial advertisements found at the top, bottom, or sides of a web page like this one. The money web publishers generate from these ads often helps support the site.
Since most Internet sites are free to visit and most web communities, including social networking sites, are free to join, advertisements are often the sole commodity these sites have to support updates, new content, and (for larger sites) the staff that maintains them. Most advertisements appear prominently along the outskirts of the page, in a position where they will not interfere with your viewing of the page, but will be hard to overlook. Banner ads can vary in size, depending on how much room the page has for them and how noticeable the site owner wants them to be.
At one time, most banner ads were at the top or bottom of the screen, but as desktop computers and laptops moved to widescreen monitors, many desktop sites have switched to primarily using vertical banner ads (along the sides) to take advantage of the additional screen real estate, while mobile sites and apps tend to utilize the traditional top/bottom model due to their smaller screen size.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who decides what gets displayed on a banner ad?
In most cases, the company featured in the ad manages the image and message. A website owner may be able to select from several banner themes, sizes, and placement options, but the actual content is maintained and updated on the advertised company’s server. Some banners ads, such as Google AdWords, may be different for each website visitor, as their content is tailored to your browsing history.
Can I control what advertisements are shown to me in a banner ad?
Many banner ads feature a company the website owner has entered into a direct relationship with, so everyone who visits that particular site will see the same ad. Site visitors have no control over the content it contains.
Other ads are tailored to our individual browsing history, which gives us some control over their content. For example, if you are looking for a new television on Amazon, you may start to see ads for televisions on other several other websites you visit. This is because, while most cookies are site-specific and collect information about your browsing patterns on that specific site, some cookies contained within banner ads can track your habits across any site using the same banner source. To prevent banner ads from tracking your behavior across sites, you can restrict what cookies your computer will accept or have your browser send a Do Not Track notice to the sites you visit. To learn more about restricting the information sites track, see our Online Privacy page.