Here are a few samples of banner ads that were successful.

The first one, “Suddenly, after 17 years,” got a 7% response from websites in Germany (there are a lot of English-speakers in Germany). Why such a good response? Because it told a dramatic story that people could relate to. Germany was once the very model of job stability, but since the 1990s, lifelong job security has become increasingly rare.

The second one did well in Australia because Aussies react to kangaroos in ads (even if they do think they are pests) and because of the ‘artful’ use of slang — a ‘bludger’ is what we would call a mooch, or freeloader.

The third was targeted to gay websites in Australia and worked, I think, because it’s a bit rude, and appeals to a general Aussie love of rawness and rudeness, which they call ‘ocker’. It’s not a good, clear image, but it’s the only one I have.

The fourth was just a visually arresting image with a simple message.

Finally, another rotating banner that made use of the popularity of tweeting.

NOTE: If you click on the kangaroo ad and the tweet facsimile, you’ll see them in all their animated glory.

The thing with all of these ads is that they do not look like any of the other banner ads you see. They are not dull and corporate. They are not sophisticated or intricate. They simply grab your attention and present an easy-to-grasp, benefit-oriented message. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done.