Like most of you in digital advertising, I read stories of dismal statistics in online display advertising, reports that you are more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad, and the steady drumbeat of “banner advertising is dead.” The reports of its death have been greatly overexaggerated.  Here’s a personal story that found me clicking a banner ad and becoming a new customer.

On Saturday, was checking my Yahoo mail account. Usually, the right rail in Yahoo mail presents me with a cesspool of ads I try to ignore.  But this time I saw an ad for shaving supplies from an outfit named Harry’s.  I had never heard of Harry’s before, but I’ve been bothered lately by how much I am spending on shaving supplies between $16 shave cream from Clinique (which used to be $8 when I started using it) and Gillette Mach3 razor blades. Although I was not thinking about shaving supplies when I logged in to check my email, this advertisement captured my attention. And I clicked on the advertisement!

Can you believe I actually clicked on a banner ad? This is against all odds, given that I am far from a member of the natural born clicker demographic.

Furthermore, I actually bought something. After looking at the Harry’s site and their products, I decided to buy the Truman Set – a starter kit with a handle, blades, and shave cream for $15.  Last night, five days after the order, the box arrived and I’m going to give Harry’s a try.

This is classic advertising: AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This was not re-targeting or bottom of the funnel search engine marketing; I was not actively looking for shaving supplies.  But rather, top of the funnel advertising backed up by an excellent web site conversion.

Well done, Yahoo – you presented me with an ad that is actually relevant to me. Well done, Harry’s – you just got a new customer through online display advertising. Thank you, Al Gore, for giving us the internet.

Banner advertising actually works!