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A web banner or banner ad is a form of advertising on the World Wide Web delivered by an ad server. This form of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking to the website of the advertiser. In many cases, banners are delivered by a central ad server. This payback system is often how the content provider is able to pay for the Internet access to supply the content in the first place. Usually though, advertisers use ad networks to serve their advertisements, resulting in a revshare system and higher quality ad placement.
Web banners function the same way as traditional advertisements are intended to function: notifying consumers of the product or service and presenting reasons why the consumer should choose the product in question, a fact first documented on HotWired in 1996 by researchers Rex Briggs and Nigel Hollis. Web banners differ in that the results for advertisement campaigns may be monitored real-time and may be targeted to the viewer's interests. Behavior is often tracked through the use of a click tag. Many web surfers regard these advertisements as annoying because they distract from a web page's actual content or waste bandwidth. In some cases, web banners cover screen content that the user wishes to see. Newer web browsers often include software "adblocker" options to disable pop-ups or block images from selected websites. Another way of avoiding banners is to use a proxy server that blocks them, such as Privoxy. Web browsers may also have extensions available that block banners, for example Adblock Plus for Mozilla Firefox, or AdThwart for Google Chrome and ie7pro for Internet Explorer.