Free Stuff: Banner Exchanges
Personally, I am not crazy about banner exchanges. I've tried them all, and
without a single exception every one of them is completely lame as a traffic
generator. In fact, the only thing that I've found that's worse than banner
exchanges for getting hits to your site is Free For All lists (especially
the mass FFA services).
All right, that being said, what is a banner exchange? These programs are a
way for sites to be advertised at no cost on other sites. The concept is
simple. Create a banner then submit it to the banner exchange. You must also
add some code to your page (or pages) which displays a randomly chosen
banner from the banner exchange program.
Each banner exchange program has a display ratio. A ratio of 1:1 means for
each time you display one of the banner exchange banners, some other site
will display one of your banners. A ratio of 2:1 means for every two banners
you display, one of yours will be shown. Obviously the higher the ratio, the
more often your banners will be displayed.
Some banner programs will give a higher conversion ratio if you include the
banners on the front page, and an even higher ratio if the banner is on the
top of your home page. The theory is this will give the most exposure to
Some banner exchange programs also include a referral program, which usually
gives you a higher conversion ratio if you get people to sign up. This can
be useful if you are good at selling, although if you can sell people on
banner exchanges you might consider selling a product which actually returns
you some money instead (in other words, don't waste your time and efforts on
these silly programs).
Most banner exchanges work with the standard banner size of 468x80 pixels.
Many programs also handle other size banners as well, all the way down to
buttons of 88 x 31. A few exchanges also allow for text links, although they
will usually require a 1x1 pixel web bug to be able to measure impressions.
When you submit your banner, virtually all services will not display it
immediately on other sites. Instead, they will require that it be examined
by a human being to ensure that it meets the qualifications of the service.
These qualifications include:
Size - the better programs limit the size of the banner. Generally, the
smaller the better. Remember, this is the size of banners that will be
displayed on your site as well as others. Programs should not allow banners
greater than 10k.
Animation - some programs do not allow animated banners.
Suitability - The banner program will examine your banner to ensure that it
is aimed at the proper audience. For example, if they do not allow
pornographic banners, than yours will be examined to ensure it is not adult
In addition, any decent exchange program will always hold your banner for
examination if you resubmit a new one. Before you get angry at this
practice, remember that it protects your site from unsuitable banners as
As I said at the beginning of this article, banner exchange programs of all
flavors are an exceptionally poor way to generate traffic to your site.
Because of this, be sure that you never, ever even consider paying anything
for this service. Spend your money on something useful.
Remember that banner exchanges may not cost money, but they are not free by
any means. Banners require:
- Additional load time on your pages. This can result in visitors leaving
your site faster.
- Other people's web sites are advertised on your site, which can pull more
traffic from your pages than you get from the program (especially with a bad
- The danger that the banner exchange programs will sell or give your
personal data (email address) to spammers or other evil doers.
- Since banner exchanges are such terrible traffic builders, you may be able
to spend your time promoting your site in a more useful manner doing
Some of the things that you should look for in a banner exchange
- High conversion ratio. 1:1 or 7:8 is good. Many programs are 3:4 (barely
acceptable) and some are 2:1 (I wouldn't bother). Anything worse - go
- Ensure that all banners are hand checked by human beings on the initial
submit and resubmit. If their help pages do not state this explicitly, then
ask. This protects your site from unsuitable banners.
- Ensure that the banners are stored on the banner exchange server. They
will not tell you this, but you can find a site which uses their service and
check the "Properties" of the banner. The image needs to be stored on their
server so that it cannot be changed unless it goes through their manual
checks for suitability.
- Be sure it will not cost you anything.
- If I had any interest in these programs, I would look for one that
supported buttons (88 x 31) and even text links. This allows for faster load
times. Text links also generally have a higher click-through ratio.
- A good set of reports so you can monitor how well the exchange is doing.
If you do sign up for one of these programs, be sure you check the
statistics regularly. You need to look for two things:
- How many visitors have you received from the program?
- And how many visitors did you lose from the program?
If you consistently lose more visitors than you gain, then leave the program
fast. This means you have a negative return on investment.
Here is a small selection of banner exchange services. In the current
internet advertising environment, it is important to note that these
services can come and go very quickly. Thus, this list may become obsolete
in short order (I have found that I need to edit it about once per quarter
to remove/modify over half the list).
123banners has a 2:1 ratio and supports an odd-size, 400x40 banner which
must be 10k or less in size.
These guys have a 2:1 ratio.
Allows 468 x 60 pixel banners with a ratio of 2:1. They allow 25k size
banners as well as animation.
These guys don't state their ratio in their FAQ. They support an odd size
banner (400x50) and the banner must be 10k or less in size.
This program allows four different banner sizes - 468x60, 400x40, 120x60,
and 88x31. They also give 2000 free impressions of their banner is shown at
the top of the page, and they have a referral program.
One for one banner exchange program. This is one of the larger banner
exchange programs (they claim over a million sites), which could result in
lots of exposure.
Cybergate Banner Exchange
A banner exchange program with a 3:2 ratio. Get 500 free credits when you
sign up, and they have a referral program.
These guys have a 2:1 ratio and support 468 x 60 banners.
Free-banners has a 2:1 ratio with a 3 tier referral program.
They have a 3:2 ratio and have a program for general as well as adult sites.
They allow 400x40, 400x50, or 468x68 banners, which must be 12k or less.
You have many tools available to create banners
You need to create some banners? Here are some services (free and paid) for
you to check out.
Here are the standard sizes for the various banners. This is a general
agreement among advertisers.
This page includes some tips to help you with your banner campaigns.
The ins and outs of banner advertising
Join a free or for pay banner exchange program to get people to visit your
Sins of the internet - Banners
Banner ads not only look terrible, increase load times and cause site
failures, they don't even work.
You Can Do Better Than Banner Exchanges
Think you want to join a banner exchange to get people to visit your site?
About the Author
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at
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