What Is a Leaderboard Banner Ad?

Reading time: 4 minutes

In real life — as in offline — you’re already more familiar with leaderboard ads than you probably realize. 

You see them outside of the movies, stores, and restaurants. They give you the general updates, events, and specials going on inside any given establishment, which is what typically entices customers to enter and spend money.

The concept is basically the same for leaderboard banner ads[2] online. By now, you’ve definitely seen your fair share of these, and have also likely been enticed to click them. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about leaderboard banner ads, including their pros and cons, and how they work.

Let’s dive in.

What Exactly is a Leaderboard Ad?

In a nutshell, a leaderboard banner ad, also referred to as a horizontal banner ad, is a rectangularly shaped digital ad unit[5].  

Banner ads, in general, are considered to be high-performing. Leaderboard banner ads are among the highest-performing as they have the highest impact on website traffic. This is because, unlike the leaderboards you see in real life, these are filled with both text and images in a responsive display format. 

They’re also usually the first ad visitors see when they land on a web page, as they’re almost always placed at the top of the page. You can also find them in the header section of web pages and sometimes even the bottom of some web pages. Either way, they’re incredibly visible, giving advertisers the advantage. 

The typical leaderboard ad measures 728 pixels wide by 90 pixels tall, which has replaced the older and smaller 468 by 60 pixel IAB[1] standard banners of the past. This new size gives advertisers a lot more space to work with when it comes to prominent webpage positions without interfering with the content of the websites — hence their popularity.

These types of ads are also typically sold in sponsorship and private deals among advertisers and publishers.

It’s important to note that a good leaderboard ad grabs a visitor[6]’s attention not because of its location, but because of how the message within the ad is being displayed. They should be bright, welcoming, and use attractive images or multimedia with minimal text to convey their message.

What are some of the Pros of a Leaderboard Banner Ad?

Visiting most websites, you’re likely to come across at least one leaderboard banner ad or two. There are several reasons for this, which go beyond simply being the strongest performing ads in the ad space. Their benefits include:

Ease of Use

One of the primary benefits of using leaderboard banner ads is that their overall design makes them perfect to work with. As opposed to other ad formats, leaderboard ads can be used by all levels of designers and advertisers, in terms of placement and satisfying all the basic requirements for attracting visitors.

They can be sized to fit into their intended space on a web page, and they’re even easier to change out if they’re not getting the desired results. When it comes to placement, all you need to know is the URL of the leaderboard ad and the image location of the banner. No technical expertise or complex coding is needed. 

Ad Server Acceptance

The format of leaderboard banner ads is also a universally accepted format for all ad server solutions. That means, you won’t have any issues setting up your leaderboard ads and you won’t need to use any Javascript, rich-media, or video formatting to display your ad.

This also makes pricing for leaderboard banner ads largely universal. Mostly all ad companies handle this type of ad format, therefore a set price is usually already forthcoming. 

The Visitor Experience

As mentioned earlier, when done right, leaderboard ads on web pages are attractive and less intrusive compared to other ad types. The average visitor generally has a positive response to a leaderboard ad compared to a pop-up, interstitial, or fly-in ad.

What Are the Cons of a Leaderboard Banner Ad?

Of course, with every set of pros comes a set of cons. While the cons that come with leaderboard banner ads are minimal, they can be fatal to your click-through rate.

They’re Too Familiar

It may seem a bit ironic, but the very thing that makes a leaderboard banner ad so popular is also the same thing that can make it unpopular

Here’s the thing — banner ads, in general, have been around for a long time. Website visitors don’t necessarily have the same knowledge as advertisers and publishers. Therefore, all types of banner display ads[3], including leaderboard ads, look the same. This causes the dreaded ad fatigue, or banner blindness, that causes visitors to actively ignore any and all ads. These are the very things that can render leaderboard ads ineffective.  

They Can Be Irritating 

In some instances, advertisers try a little too hard to battle ad fatigue. To make their ads stand out, they’ll add lots of movement or brightly blinking text to draw attention. Unfortunately, this usually results in even worse click-through rates and conversions as they irritate visitors enough to make them automatically exit the page.

Essentially, leaderboard ads are the perfect advertisement — as long as they match the design of the webpage. Otherwise, they become an ineffective nuisance.

Try Leaderboard Ads Today

Overall, the leaderboard banner ad is an indispensable ad unit when it comes to monetizing a website using display ads. They’re associated with a very high demand, a strong performance[4], and exceptional monetization results. They’ve earned their status as a staple of display advertising.

1. Interactive Advertising Bureau [IAB] ( IAB ) The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media companies, brands, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. IAB is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the trade association advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, IAB is headquartered in New York City.
2. banner ads. Banner ads are image-based rather than text-based and are a popular form of online advertising. The purpose of banner advertising is to promote a brand and/or to get visitors from the host website to go to the advertiser's website.
3. display ads. Display ads are a term used for traditional banner advertisements that serve on mobile or desktop web pages. Like video ads, many variations, types, and sizes exist.
4. performance. A form of advertising in which the purchaser pays only when there are measurable results.
5. ad unit. Ad Unit is a term commonly used to describe the advertisement space on a website/mobile app – IE a 300×250 ad unit. It’s widely used within Google’s range of advertising products such as Google Ad Manager, AdExchange and AdSense.

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