Before we start, I am only talking about this in the context of non-commercial exchanges for equally non-commercial personal homepages. I will be talking about and listing resources for graphical banners. These are not for paid advertising but are another way to share traffic amongst personal homepages. Banners can fit in well with the retro 1990’s look.
Free banner exchanges come in two types: 1. rotators, which simply show a different banner on each page refresh, and, 2. banner exchanges where you earn credit to show your banner on other sites by showing other people’s banner on yours. (ie. a 2:1 exchange means for every 2 banners you show on your site your banner gets shown once.) Both are free.
Below are a few non-commercial banner exchanges I found for personal sites. I will also put links to resources for making banners at the end.
Free Banner Rotator Services
These are already running services that you can sign up and join.
- NeoLinks – 300×250 banner rotator service for Neocities sites only.
- WSMZ – 468×60 banner rotator service. I have seen these ads on a fair amount of retro sites.
Run Your Own Banner Rotator
Free Banner Rotator Code – it only can control a total of 10 banners. I suppose you and nine buddies could go in on this. Better use would be if you have several of your own websites and promote traffic to each site.
Cgifree – also has an ad rotator code.
Easy Banner (Free) – this is a php script you install and run on your own server and you can run your own free banner exchange. There is a Lite version which gets rid of co-branding for a small fee and a Pro version for more that has more features. This runs on a ratio as I described above. Excess impressions would show a banner advertising the exchange to get more members.
Advantages of Banners
- Low Maintenance – put the code in place and forget it. Swap out a different banner every couple of months to keep things fresh.
- Relentless – Those banners keep showing on other websites with every page refresh 24/7 and you don’t have to do anything or pay anything.
- Branding – people see your banner even if they don’t click on it. They may remember your brand if they see it enough and click through at a later date.
- Harness Junk Traffic – Does Google send a lot of traffic to a particular page on your site but visitors almost never stay for more than a second? Put a banner exchange code on that page and harness the page impressions from the wasted traffic. You might as well get some benefit from junk traffic.
- Bypass the Search Engines – it is a way to promote your site without the Big Tech search engines acting as gatekeeper.
- It is Free – enough said.
- Very Low Traffic – frankly, you will get more traffic by joining a descent webring or exchanging fixed buttons with other websites or submitting your URL to all the directories you can. The click thru ratios are very poor for banners.
- Might be Mistaken as Commercial Ads – this might be a turn-off, particularly for blog visitors. Also some directories might think you are commercial.
There are banner making resources here.
I had fun running a banner exchange back in the 1990’s. People have not seen retro style graphical banners in a long time so you might get some novelty clicks. Banners might provide an old time feel to your page and fit the aesthetic of your site. However, people get banner blind fairly quickly so I would not expect this to be a major traffic earner for you. YMMV. But if you are having fun – go for it.
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