I know; you're like whatever! Banners aren't cool. They suck. They're annoying, the pop-up, pop-under, flash, blink, give you adware, and track how many times you change your boxers in a week… They're just evil right? That's why someone made those Flash blocking plug-ins for Firefox isn't it?
Well, you're all wrong. I know everyone has seen and clicked on a PointRoll served banner at some point, and it's equally as likely that you liked it. They serve up some of the hottest banner son the web, and rightly so. These guys are the sultans of web banners and they have the technology and knowledgeable staff to pack a wallop.
I just spent a good portion of my late morning hangin' with a couple of dudes from PointRoll, and what I learned simply blew me away. I thought I knew a bit about what they did, how they did it – but I was flat out wrong. They host all your banners through a partnership with Akamai, so all you have to do is drop a block of code in your placement page – and you're off and running. They can serve up Flash, and Rich media with style. I was a bit skeptical going into the meeting since I have made some Rich Media banners and know how big they can be, even with spending a lot of time optimizing – and that to me was a huge detractor from using them. A website shouldn't be hindered from fully loading by the likes of a banner; the banners should be the last and lightest thing to pop into the viewport of your browser. With PointRoll is basically is. Through creative and intelligent use of multiple file requests, they can keep the initial load to around 30k, then load the remaining Rich Media content as it is requested, rather than loading up the browser up front. The video is also sorted and served to the client based on a set of criteria including what their available bandwidth is, so they get the proper user experience based on what the capabilities are.
One of the coolest banners I saw today (unfortunately I can't find it online) was one they did with Ford for the Fusion. The banner guessed your zip code, then dropped it into a submit box where you could edit it, or just fire it off to have results returned to how many cars with details about each car were in stock at local dealerships; all within the banner interface – you never had to leave it to get the data. That is an excellent use of a banner, and goes light years beyond the early 90's style banners plastering websites world wide. I know I'm getting all worked up about banners, but these guys are a quantum leap beyond the garbage you usually get served up, and regardless of what you think about banners, the intelligent, user-centric design and implementation behind their strategy is a breath of fresh air from my inbox full of spam, and the pop-under banners I get daily.
I'm not a total fanboy though. Their BadBoy banners; you know the ones – the ones that float around the frickin' screen…. I really dislike those banners – in fact I would be happy enough if they never showed up anywhere. Sorry guys, but the BadBoy gots to go! I especially dislike the ones where the close button is every other location but where it should be, It seems like PointRoll places the close box/text in the upper right corner pretty routinely though, so it is probably some of the other guys doing that.
Check out their creative showcase and see for yourself. Here are a couple of my favorites: