Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

April 25, 2004

Pioneering Web Ads Persist at the Banner Ad Museum

Banner ads - what would the Web be without them? These floating 468 x 60 pixel rectangular billboards grew like kudzu during the Web's middle years, and they came in many flavors, including static, GIF-animated, Java-animated, and Flashified.

Of course, banner ads were never very popular with Web users, especially those using dial-up connections, nor could it be said that they were particularly popular with advertisers, who grew increasingly dismayed by their typically abysmal click-through performance. Thus we got the pop-up, the pop-under, and the context-sensitive text ad - an ad medium that Google seems to be pinning much of its future on today.

In my travels, I have unearthed a number of early banner ads, and discussed them in various articles here, but a site called the Banner Ad Museum has done a much better job of preserving a large, historically significant corpus of them.

Perusing this online museum yields key important facts about the birth of the banner ad, including the fact that while 468 x 60 became the most widely adopted size, many other standard sizes were promulgated by the IAB (Internet Advertising Board) way back in 1996.

More importantly, the Banner Ad Museum has done an excellent job of preserving and displaying thousands of early banner ads in its massive gallery area, including classic animated banner ads from now-defunct Web properties such as WebVan, Kozmo. and even

The Banner Ad Museum's collection is broad and deep (it claims to have gathered a whopping 3,500 banner ads), and while the site's public collection has not been updated in several years, its proprietor tells me that BAM continues to gather ads and plans to put more recently collected examples online soon.

This is a worthy project and if you have a few bucks to spare, I suggest that you give a few to BAM to keep its collection online. Suggested donations are between $1 and $3; a small price to pay to keep so much fascinating Web history available to the world.


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