Strong banner, smooth landing

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The transition from the banner to the landing page should be seamless. Click-through rates are low, so advertisers need to make the most of a prospect who's demonstrated some interest. As in any medium, advertisers must first stop the audience, but the hard part is engaging them. Creating a disconnect before the audience gains traction is self-defeating. One of the surest ways to disrupt the transition from the banner to the landing page is to leave readers wondering if they have landed on the right page after clicking through.

There should be some consistency between the look and feel of the banner and the landing page. The overall design, colors, headlines, even logos can ease the transition. Once readers have made a soft landing, the advertiser can guide them through the selling proposition and then hope they'll take some form of action.

Cognizant's selling process begins on a promising note with an attractive banner that invites the audience to “Find out how CIOs are driving the future of work.” The banner is well-branded thanks to the prominent display of the logo on the far right. We also like the two green arrows that not only direct the eye to the logo but encourage visitors to click. They're like buttons and links that prompt the audience to take the next critical step.

The landing page disappoints, however. Cognizant greets the audience with a large, dark square that serves as the backdrop for the headline “Next-generation CIOs: Change agents for the global virtual workplace.” Visitors are invited to click on a PDF of a 28-page research report, but why ask them to take another step?

We would either take them directly to the informative and well-designed report or do more to make the landing page more visually appealing to reassure visitors that they have come to the right place. Our concern is that Cognizant's audience gets lost in transition.

YellowBook's banner is a black box featuring a headline that's rich with promise: “YellowBook has the marketing tools to help your business achieve success.” Who wouldn't click on that? The landing page, however, has a vastly different look than the banner. It's as light as the banner was dark. We did a double-take, thinking we had been misdirected to another company's site.

But it was the right place. To YellowBook's credit, the landing page's headline provides the follow-through by stating: “Free tools to maximize results.” And the landing page lives up to the headline's promise by providing a series of search and other marketing tools for the small- businessperson.

A far more seamless transition from the banner to the landing page is offered by Cargill. The giant grain- processing company features on its banner the image of a green couch. Beyond a living room's glass wall is a green field of soybeans that essentially replicates the green rows of the couch. Readers who click land on a page featuring the same image but with a brief case history about a new kind of foam used to create the couch that was made not with petro-chemicals but with soybean oil—a renewable resource. It's a soft landing.

Another seamless transition is served up by Microsoft, which draws attention with a rapid rotation of banners that present a series of affirmations such as “I am the prince of provisioning” or “I can say yes to anything” and ending with “I have cloud power.” The banner is overprinted against the face of a blue-eyed man with blue skies on the periphery to help convey the notion of clouds in the sky.

A graphic resembling tiny pinwheels adorns the banner. The same graphic, which whirls into motion, greets visitors to the landing page, assuring them that the story continues. The dynamic landing page rotates through a wealth of information about cloud computing, including short videos and reports to cement the attention of the audience.

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