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Why I don’t - CLICK HERE. NOW!!

Whenever in the face of a cultural change, we as a society, take three very definitive steps towards the evolution of that idea. 

1. Refute 
We refuse the existence of any such thing. We negate the very entity of it, thus no further thought is to be wasted there. 

2. Denial 
Sooner or later the evidence starts piling up, and people around you start looking a bit dodgy on their belief. You know it’s there, but you hope it passes off as gossip. 

3. Acquisition  
Saying that you knew it all along. In fact, we take complete ownership of the idea, and say that we knew it all along. 

The cumulative social-consciousness of the masses has always gone through these stages. We behaved the same way when someone referred this planet to be spherical rather than flat. We refuted it, called that person mad. After a while people started chasing sundials, and figured that there is a possibility that we might be on a tilted ball. Today, it seems, that kids are born with that piece of knowledge engraved in their gene; literally, it’s called genetic memory. 

This has been faced by every theory that ever came out of thinker’s mind, by every new technology and every new powerful invention. The Internet is one of them. When it was conceived, it was a covert operative tool for the spy agencies to send top-secret text messages. Everyone strongly believed that this was nothing but spy fiction. Then came the cold war when there were proofs that such a thing existed and was spoken about in closed groups, while the masses stayed in utter denial of it. To today, when anyone with a Facebook account is a social media expert, and every Twitter-bum is a social activist. We have owned the net today, and along with it; we have owned all the screens available to consume the ever-expanding world of web. 

And that brings me to the banner. Remember the banner? Specially the pop-up ones. Remember how they annoyed even the ones who paid for them? Yes, those. They are to the digital world, as obituaries are to printed media. Every print ad’s forefather started out looking like that. One bordered square box, with monotone pictures and few words in it, something that is out there to sell stuff straight and cheap. Over years, that medium has moved from dusty evening news to glossy evening referrals. But they still haven’t managed to kill the obituary as yet. And we, the digital folks, are no better. We have moved from dial-up modems to almost 4G, we have gone from 256MBPS desktops to quad-core mobile phones that have more megapixel in their front camera than my dad had in his ’95 Nikon. We have gone from 800x600 to responsive design. We have gone from structure to chaos, from text to video, and somehow the banner is still hovering like an albatross around our necks. Still the square peg, proverbial and otherwise. 

Okay, fact time. We rank #3 in terms of Facebook users, and the same for monthly online data consumption in the world. 93% of the people who have a social media enabled cellphone; use it to access their networks. The consumption patters have changed, the screens have changed. And let’s face it, the banner doesn’t make any sense anymore. No responsively designed site has the space for the rigid box in their fluid scheme of things. No app has the guts to throw a banner ad to hinder the user experience anymore. In fact, the condition on a banner on a mobile screen is much worse. Have you seen those poor little suffocated blocks of 4bit image, 2 font-size texted buggers? And just like with all old outdated things, it’s time for the banner to either be stashed in the storeroom, away from the line of vision; or turn its status to an exclusive antique, an art form. Something people will pay to see. Something that comes on to awe, not to be awful. Something that goes beyond its meager 15KB/3 frame category into a multimedia experience that people want to talk about. 

Banners once opened doors for the marketers to start exploring this new terrain. It was fine as a cheap investment to see if the real estate will turn out well or not. It was tolerable when brands used it to dip their feet in the water to see how much the fish bite. But in social media time, decades have passed since then. This land has been claimed, millions resides here in very categorized, segmented societies now. The machinery has changed, it’s time we changed our tools. Fine, you want to keep the little hammer, do that, but you are going to need a hell lot more that just that to keep those wheels turning. Banners are and always were a tool to engage. Unfortunately, its form restricts its function today. So it’s time we either confine the run-of-the-mill banner to the classified sections, or we started investing time in figuring out what role can a direct access section on the browser play in the scheme of things to come. 

My suggestion, start with breaking the shape. Break it out of its box and completely disobey the media planner’s XML sheet. Second, DO NOT MAKE IT A REPLICA OF A PRINT AD OR SCREENSHOTS FROM A TVC. Third, innovate the way you will show it, never make the same banner twice. Fourth, keep mobile in your mind, so that your design is responsive to various screen modes. Fifth, use your banner as a channel to push content, not marketing messages. It’s a hawker’s job to scream, you are here converse. Oh and yes, CREATE BRANDED MULTIMEDIA CONTENT, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, as if your life depended on it. Without content, none of your channels will work, ever. 

And to sum all the fragmented pieces of this conversation, all that I am trying to say is, that a banner, in its existing form is as useful to your brand as paying my neighbour to come sell your product to me personally on a Sunday morning. I ignore him when he is around, I wish he wasn’t, and if under some godforsaken circumstance I did had to engage him in a conversation, I would want to end it as soon as possible. And if he doesn’t change or stop, then I will shift out of here, move into a flat opposite someone who interests me, coz we all like to be interested in something, so that we can tell our friends about it later and feel good about myself. 

So, if one day you do take complete ownership on this whole perspective, I’ll be more than happy. Maybe that day, I’ll CLICK HERE. NOW!!


Abhishake Das

Abhishake Das is a digital marketing enthusiast.