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Banner Ad Technical terms

There are a number of technical terms and acronyms associated with banner ads. Here is a glossary explaining those that are in common usage.

Animated Banners

These are banners which do more than simply display text and/or a static image. They present moving images, aimed at making the banner more eye-catching to customers. The most basic animated banners use animated GIFs (see Animated GIFS); while more sophisticated examples use software such as Flash (see Flash Banners).

Animated GIFs

These are a type of GIF (image file) that can combine several separate images to create a single GIF. Although not as flexible as other animation formats, these GIFS are supported by nearly all web browsers. They also tend to be much smaller than other files, such as Java applets.


A click is when a user actually clicks on a banner ad (or text link); a click-through is the action that is performed when a customer clicking with their laptop keyboard or smart phone keys takes them through to the advertiser’s site.

CPA (Cost per action)

This can refer to a lead, sale or click. An advertiser website could offer affiliates $0.25 per sign-up. The visitor hasn’t actually purchased anything yet but will still pay for this ‘action’. Payment is only made with a certain action occurs because of the banner ad.

CTR (Click-through-rate)

This is a banner ad’s response rate – the number of customers ‘clicking’ on the ad. Usually this is expressed as a percentage. The number of click-throughs received would be divided by the number of page impressions, then multiplied by 100.

Flash Banners

These are sophisticated banners which are designed to be far more dynamic than static banners. They are coded using Flash software, which allows the flash banners to incorporate motion or even sound effects, effectively transforming the ad into a miniature movie clip. These can be extremely eye-catching (although they can also be off-putting if overdone).


The commonest types of image files used in the web are the JPEG (joint photographic experts group) and GIF (graphics interchange format). JPEGs are the best format for reproducing photographs and realistic images. GIFs use an ‘eight-bit format’ which means the maximum colours it will support is 256.


Each time a customer views an ad, an impression is created.


Whenever you see a picture on a web page, what you are actually seeing is something consisting of sometimes vast numbers of individual little dots, each containing colours. If you look at the picture of a circle in any graphic software, then magnify, you’ll see that even edges that appear to be curved are nothing of the kind. They only appear that way because of the density of light and dark colour areas of dots varies. Each singular area of illumination on a display screen is known as a pixel. Pixels is therefore a unit of measurement for images

Static Banners

Static banner design are the most basic form of banner ad, consisting of text (product name, URL of website or an advertising slogan), sometimes displayed with a static image in the background.

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