Are Banner Exchanges Worth It?

I get many people asking me, "are banner exchanges worth it?". Why do they ask that question? It's because they see their banner's terrible statistics, usually something like this:

Banner Displayed 198 times
0 Click Throughs
6 Credits Remaining

Isn't that exciting? You have displayed this banner exchange's banner almost two hundred times and have received nothing in exchange. This is the way it is with most people. If the exchange offers a 2:1 exchange ratio, and your banner has a click through ratio of 100:1 click (not uncommon on the Internet), then your statistics will most likely not look to pretty.

The debate goes on... are banner exchanges only good for the people who run them?

It is starting to sound like that.

Personally, I think that banner exchanges do have their place, if you do it right. Here are some things that you can do to optimize your banner exchange experience:

1. Make sure you have a banner with a good click through rate. Of course, click through isn't the only thing. You want to get a good response. So, let me change that. Don't just go for a banner that gets a good click through rate... go for a banner that will draw visitors that are interested in your site. It is much better to get qualified visitors even if you have to get a lower click through rate.

FourCorners has lots of information on designing good banners.

2. Make sure you only display one banner on each page of your site. I can't tell you how many times I have seen sites that line over five banners up at the bottom of each page of their website. Banners are annoying enough... don't annoy your visitors more than you have to. The object of banner exchanges is to drive visitors to your site, not to drive them away.

3. Make sure that you give the banner a good location on each page. Design your site so that the banners are a natural part of the design. Take my site, Promotion World for example. I have designed it so that the banners look good on it... in fact, I have experimented with leaving them off, and it doesn't look nearly as good.

Webreference is another good example of a site that integrates banners well into their site design.

4. Make sure you join an exchange that offers good targeting, especially if your site is on a subject that appeals only to a very small audience. There is no point in broadcasting your banner to hundreds of people that couldn't care less about your site.

5. Make sure that the exchange you join has a good credit ratio. There are a number of exchanges that offer much better ratios that what LinkExchange and the others offer. LinkBuddies is one such exchange. They offer a 4:3 exchange ratio.

6. Try a few different exchanges. I have had great results with some exchanges which have more unique advertising methods. TrafficX is a good example. They exchange click throughs rather than impressions, which has worked quite well for me!

7. Finally, check out a number of different exchanges to see which works best for you. Have a look at the Banner Exchange Reviews section to help you here.

If done right, banner exchanges can be a reasonably useful tool for getting a bit of extra traffic. Make sure, however, that you don't rely on them alone. There are many, many other forms of promotion available. There are lots of websites dedicated to the subject of website promotion, and I recommend you visit some. Some of my favorites include:

The site you are at right now, Promotion World

May your banners be blessed with high click through rates!