Banner ads are evil. Well, that’s what many people think. They have become such a bad thing nowadays that there are dozens of banner ad blocking mechanisms to choose from.

The internet has evolved into something completely different than when it started. It used to be similar to radio in that you were surfing all over and banner ads were like brief commercials that were reminders of things like saving money on a new car, a cheaper phone plan is available and don’t forget toner ink the next time you’re in the office supply store. These days, the internet is used as a search tool to place you in front of the specific content you’re looking for. Today’s viewer doesn’t want to see things that might hinder them from getting only what they want.

Google Adsense is perfect for filling in gaps in your online inventory but it isn’t much better at delivering “relevant” banner ads. Adsense uses cookies and the visitors recent browsing history to cater to viewers. However, it doesn’t take into consideration what you thought about the product when you visited last. Here’s an example. I was looking for the best floor mop and in my search decided to go with a wet vacuum instead. Adsense still thinks I’m interested in mops because of my search and continues to show mop banner ads. As awesome as Adsense is, it’s still delivering irrelevant content that today’s viewer doesn’t want to see.

The solution is to make banner ads sexy and relevant content. There is no better place to do this than in smaller markets where client information can actually benefit the local listener. In a huge market, a “50% off closing sale” might not raise an eyebrow if you heard it on-air or saw it online. However, in a small market of 12,000 people that kind of information can actually be considered front page news material on a couple of different levels.

The key for small markets is to seek out these opportunities and capitalize on them. In the example above, a news article can be created examining the history of the business, the reason for closing and perhaps stories about the people who worked there. That becomes website content that should be promoted on-air. In addition to their purchased spot schedule, create a banner ad campaign on your station website.

Obviously, not all client content will be newsworthy. This is when sellers should ask this question to their advertisers. “What vital information can your radio ad/banner ad offer the listener/viewer?” If the client simply wants their logo and phone number to be displayed in their banner ad, then help them to be more creative. Otherwise, you both can expect more of your local audience to install the latest ad blocking technology. Using the mop example above we can say something like, “You obviously don’t need a mop right now. But when a nasty spill happens, you’re going to want the best. Get your Super Mop at XYZ and be ready for whatever happens next. Click here.” That’s much better than a banner ad that shows a logo and phone number.

So, small market stations, get out there and be creative with your banner ads. We’ve heard from local website visitors who told us that banner ads on the station website would be missed if they were taken away and say, “How else would they know what local businesses were doing?” You won’t find comments like these in large markets. This is where you can shine.