Does it seem to you that the first iPhone was launched onto the market ages ago? Well, this device is only 12 years old, less than half the age of the protagonist of this text.

Yes, the banner has recently turned 25. This is why we decided to go back to the past for a while to remember what and when happened in the period when the banner underwent one change after another.

It all began in the first half of the 90s. From the perspective of today’s Internet, those are ancient times. Nobody thought about YouTube and streaming websites back then. People considered it a real success when a simple website loaded without a long delay. At some point, banners started appearing on such sites…


🎈  1994 : the first banner

* 1994 / AT&T / The first banner ad


On the 27th of October, the HotWired website showed a new form of advertisement to the world. It apparently sparked users’ interest, as CTRs exceeded 40% at that time. Back then, people were excited about banners as well as such events as Nelson Mandela’s election to the South African presidency or the premiere of “Pulp Fiction.”


🎈  1995: the rise of DoubleClick 


It didn’t take long for advertisers to recognise the need for a tool that could target, publish and track ad results. A year after the birth of the banner, there appeared DoubleClick, which did exactly that. The company was bought by Google in 2008, and now it is a part of the Google Marketing Platform. What else happened in 1995? “Toy Story” was released in cinemas. Yes, it’s been 24 years since then!


🎈  1996: the first standardisation of banner sizes


That year saw the establishment of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) – a non-profit organisation whose purpose was to introduce unified standards of Internet ads. 

One of its most important tasks was to specify standard banner sizes. Before the regulation was introduced, there were many different sizes, and every website owner could invent their own format. Initially, 8 available sizes were specified in 1996. The next years saw the addition of more standard sizes, and banner designers breathed a sigh of relief. According to estimations, over 80% of currently published banners are compliant with IAB guidelines.



🎈 1996: GIF ads grow more and more popular!

* 1997 / Microsoft Office ’97 / Gif banner ad


The struggle for the user’s attention resulted in the appearance of new forms. When the market became saturated with static ads, advertisers started experimenting with moving banners. As seen from today’s perspective, the GIF format did not have much to offer, but there were no other, more effective options at the time.


🎈  1997: the pop-up invasion


As a matter of fact, ads shown in pop-up windows appeared on the market only for a while. They were soon restricted, which allowed the humankind to focus on other things. It was the year when “Titanic” sailed into cinemas, and the first book about Harry Potter was published. But that’s not all because it was also the year when George Clooney was chosen as the sexiest man in the world!


* 2003 / Napster

🎈  1999: the introduction of Flash


Until then, the only animated ads were GIFs. But this format could not achieve satisfactory graphics quality. Because GIF pictures can only use a limited colour palette, such banners looked gaudy and quite visually aggressive. Flash changed everything and became the standard format of animated ads for the next two decades.



🎈  2000: the launch of AdWords


Soon after the humankind survived the millennium bug, a new Google product was introduced. Ads, at first consisting only of text, were related to search queries. Today, AdWords is a powerful tool in which banners feel right at home. And much more happened in the year 2000, such as when Bill Gates stepped down from the position of Microsoft’s CEO.

And Microsoft promoted its web design software – FrontPage – with a duck?!


* 2000 / Microsoft FrontPage 2000


* 2003 / Discover

🎈  2005: the start of YouTube


Yes, there was once a world without YouTube and it wasn’t very long ago. But everything changed when first videos from that website appeared on computer screens. In addition, new ad formats were developed – placed on the video screen, next to it or before the video. Something else happened that year – Donald Trump got married for the third time (the last one so far).




* 2003 / Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3


🎈  2009: a great ad of the New Mini was created

* 2009 / Mini


🎈  2010: Apple changes the world of full-screen ads

* 2010 / Apple iPod


* 2003 / McAfee spamkiller

🎈  2012: sponsored content on Facebook


The time came for Facebook to start earning serious money. As a result, ads were introduced to social media as well. Nowadays, they are commonplace – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are full of sponsored content. What else began in 2012? The life of the Internet feline celebrity, the Grumpy Cat, who was born on the 4th of April.




🎈  2013: rich media ads start showing their huge potential


Faster Internet connections and technological development made it possible to put much more in a banner. Multimedia content and interactive elements started appearing in ads. The times were good for non-standard, creative solutions, so it’s no wonder that somebody came up with the idea of starting a car with… a webcam.


* 2013 / AUDI


🎈  2017: the end of Flash


It was the year when Adobe made an official announcement, but everyone – including the biggest players on the market – had been talking about it for years. Flash had fallen behind the world and had to go away. Banners started using the HTML5 technology and now they are very comfortable with it.




🎈  2018: the establishment of the Coalition For Better Ads


Members of this coalition include Google, Facebook and the IAB. Its goal is to introduce better standards of online advertising. One of the results of its activity is the fact that the most invasive ads, such as those that automatically play video and sound, are now blocked by default in the Chrome browser.


What will happen during the next 25 years of the banner’s life? We can only say that it will become even more effective and even better adjusted to the users and their mobile devices. Dear Banner, we wish you a lot of success and high CTRs!


Author /
Big hothead of banners, banner animations and interactions. He loves to explore it’s new usage.
Founder of Trzask. Master animator, certified RichMedia programmer, general director of production. 15 years experienced for banner realizations for big brands (Microsoft, Sony, Toyota, Visa, Ikea, Nestle and other).


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