Join Anastasia McCune for an in-depth discussion in this video Overview of terminology and business considerations, part of Flash: Best Practices for Banner Ads.
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of creating ads, we are going to discuss some key terminology and background information about the business side of banner advertising that will help inform your development work. We are going to start with some key definitions. An advertiser is simply a company that wants to advertise. The advertiser is the entity who defines what goals they want an ad to achieve and the content that goes into the ad to help them achieve that goal. A publisher is a site that the ad will appear on. An example would be your local newspaper or news channel web site.
An advertiser pays the publisher for the privilege of having their ad appear on the site. Conversely, the publisher works to make sure that the type of content on the site and the amount of traffic they get is of high quality and attracts an audience that would be interested in the product or service that ad is promoting. An ad network, as the name implies, is essentially a conglomeration of sites. Ad networks simply act as brokers between advertisers and publishers sites that they either own or have a relationship with. Some examples of big ad networks include Yahoo!, Google DoubleClick, and MSN.
Purchasing space on these networks means your ad appears on the multiple different yet related sites those companies own or network with. Other examples of more specialized ad networks could include 24/7 Media, which is great for B2B messages, and NetShelter, which is great for technology related ad campaigns. You should shop around to find ad networks that fit your and cater as closely as possible to your industry. You should also note that some networks calculate cost by counting the number of banner impressions while others measure in terms of the number of clicks on a banner.
Bigger networks measure in number of impressions. Let's say a person named Sally is in charge of marketing for a women's clothing company. How does Sally get her banner ad on a publisher's site? If she's looking to purchase space on a specific site, maybe for a company just in her home city, she can contact the publishers she's interested in directly. If Sally is looking to purchase a particular demographic across multiple sites, say women who make over 50K and who live in the eastern United States, then she can go to an ad network to purchase this kind of space.
Many advertisers choose to work through a media buying agency. The whole job of the media buyer is to streamline that ad placement process for you. Typically, media buyers research and recommend the publisher sites an advertiser should target, negotiate the ad campaign, track the campaign, and optimize the campaign based on results. All of that takes time and for some businesses it may make sense to do that work themselves. For others, the time equals money equation points to hiring an agency to do that work.
There are other advantages to consider when thinking about hiring a media buyer. Most media buyers have pre-existing relationships with many publishers or ad networks and can typically negotiate better rates for an individual client than somebody who is just walking in off the street. A good media buyer will also have useful insight from experience. They'll know about what placements are better than others, what publishers have a more engaged audience, and so on. A simple web search will reveal numerous local and national media buying outfits. Some larger media planning companies like PointRoll, Mediamind, and Atlas also provide other services that you will likely get familiar with, especially if you're working with more complex ads.
Some examples of these other services include Flash templates and testing systems that advertisers can use when developing their actual ad, in-house technical development help, tracking systems to help measure things like number of clicks on an ad or number of video views, and ad and video serving. I point out the larger companies here, because for rich media ads on some ad networks using some of the services of these third-party vendors is required. Now is a good time to talk terminology again, since I just mentioned the term rich media.
Flash ads are typically divided into two categories: standard Flash ads and rich media. An ad is not automatically a rich media ad just because you're using Flash. While the terminology and definitions may vary a little from publisher to publisher, standard Flash ads in general are made up of a single SWF file restricted to a small file size somewhere around 40K or 50K. It doesn't contain any audio or video, it doesn't expand, and the only tracking required is a single clickthrough. Rich media ads are usually defined as an ad that has one of the following attributes.
It requires multiple SWF to function, it has video or it expands, it has multiple clickthrough points, it contains other special features like polling, send to a friend, or a gallery, and has files that utilize polite download. In case you're wondering, polite download allows an ad to download content only after the webpage it appears on has been delivered. Polite download is used for ads that are heavy on graphics, have video, or just otherwise have enough content that 40K isn't going to meet the needs of the ad.
So to reiterate, a small initial download, usually just the first panel or opening sequence of an ad, takes place as the page loads. A larger secondary download occurs after the webpage has loaded completely. This allows the page content to load normally and protects the user experience while still allowing ads to have advanced features. At the time of the recording of this course, standard Flash ads and animated GIFs are the most commonly utilized ad types, but rich media is becoming more and more popular.
If you'd like some additional information on the cost of placing ads, effectiveness of network versus individual site ad placement, and some basic info on the way video is delivered in ads, see that PDF located in the Exercise Files tab in the course details page. Armed with this information and terminology you're now ready to dive into the nuts and bolts of Flash ad development. So let's continue on.
- Understanding terminology
- Gathering requirements
- Understanding whether to use Flash or HTML5
- Setting up an ad and using guide layers
- Adding clickability
- Optimizing images and text
- Publishing final files and images
- Creating input text fields
- Creating a print job
- Handling print errors
- Tweening between collapsed and expanded states
- Adding timeline control
- Addressing security issues