Canned Banners lets small business marketers and entrepreneurs quickly create professional online ads

What is the name of the site(s) and URL?

Canned Banners www.cannedbanners.com

A brief synopsis of the website / application ?

Canned Banners is a self-serve website that allows anyone to quickly create high-quality banner ads. Our ads are all Flash-based, meaning that they have animation and interactivity.

Here’s how our ad builder works:

  1. Pick a banner ad template from our Gallery
  2. Customize your ad with your own photos, logo, text, and options
  3. Once you’re done you’ll receive finished Flash ads within 24 hours (usually much less)

The ads you make using Canned Banners can be used on any major online ad network or website, including Google and Yahoo!

Why did you start this company?

We started Canned Banners to give small business marketers a fast and inexpensive way to make nice-looking ads. The process of working with ad agencies and freelance designers is OK for big companies, but it’s a very inefficient and expensive process and not a realistic option for most SMBs.

We also want to give small businesses a new option besides just advertising online using text ads. Text ads can be very effective, but they’re only part of a “balanced breakfast” when it comes to finding new customers online.

Who is your competition, and what do you do better?

Canned Banners is designed for a novice user who doesn’t have much time to spend or much experience in the world of advertising. So we’ve kept our ad builder simple while maintaining the quality of the finished ads.

Every banner ad template has a pre-set layout for all the images and text. Customers get to choose a font and color scheme, but we make things easy by keeping those options limited to a few well-chosen presets. To add an extra element of variety, there is a ‘wildcard’ option that’s different for every template – it could be layout, animation style…anything.

There are other self-serve ad builders that we compete with. However, our competitors typically fall into two categories: they are either too complex for a small business user or they produce low-quality ads. A few examples of each type of competitor:

Too complex for small businesses:

BannerSnack

4delite

Low-quality ads:

Google Display Ad Builder

AdReady

Why would a small business, entrepreneur, freelancer, etc use your product?

If a small business wants to start advertising online with banner ads, Canned Banners offers an inexpensive and hassle-free way to create a set of professional ads. The alternative method of working with an ad agency or freelance designer is time-consuming and can get very expensive.

Our low price point and ease of use make us a great fit for bootstrapped web entrepreneurs who are building out their online marketing strategy.

How could you effectively use these tools?

In an afternoon, a small business could use Canned Banners to build a very robust “starter” banner ad campaign. Spend 15-30 minutes making a set of ads on Canned Banners. Then use your new ads to start a banner ad campaign using Google AdWords – our ads are fully compatible with Google and almost any other online ad network. Then start a retargeting campaign at our partner AdRoll.com. Retargeting will allow you to continue to show ads to anyone who visits your website and then leaves without making a purchase.

A short bio of your company:

Canned Banners was founded in January 2009 by three co-founders: Myles Younger, Jeremy Knight, and Chris Mears. The beta version of our ad builder went live on January 1, 2010.

In October we launched a separate version of our ad builder that can be white-labeled with another company’s logo – we use this version to partner with ad networks and other online media companies.

We plan on leaving beta in early 2011.

Do you offer free online or offline tools?

Currently every customer’s first order is free. We are planning to switch to a “freemium” model in mid-January. This means that a simplified version of our ad builder will remain free, while customers will have to pay to use the full-featured version.

Are there different pricing levels?

Not really. In order to keep things simple and easy for our customers, we only have one pricing plan. Every customer’s first order is free, then you can purchase banner ads: one size for $50, two sizes for $75, and all three sizes for $100.

However, we do have strategic partnerships with various online ad networks and ad sales teams. In those cases we create custom pricing plans. These include bulk discounts, revenue sharing agreements, subscription plans, custom coupon codes, etc.
Do you have a blog that keeps users updated?

Yes, our blog is at http://blog.cannedbanners.com

Facebook, twitter, or ? Provide URL

Twitter: www.twitter.com/cannedbanners

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Canned-Banners/353886364596
How long have you been in business?

We have been in business for about 2 years now.

Number of current users?

We currently have about 300 companies using our service.

How do you see your company in the next 2-5 years (more products or services?)

Canned Banners’ goal is to become the de facto online ad builder for small and medium businesses. Within the next year we plan to greatly expand our roster of partner ad networks and online publishers.

In terms of products and features that are on the horizon, we will be adding instant export soon. We’ll also be developing an API that will allow Canned Banners to be integrated into any online ad tool or website.

There are also other ad formats we’d like to offer, such as HTML5, mobile, and digital-out-of-home. The great thing about the Canned Banners model is that it can be translated to almost any visual ad format.

How many employees do you currently have working with you and/or freelance contractors?

Just the three co-founders. Between us we’re able to cover all aspects of the business.

Are you looking to hire more people or contractors? If so, what positions and skills are you looking for?

We may be looking to hire in the next 3-9 months. We’ll probably need someone working in a hybrid sales / biz dev role, and a lead PHP developer with experience designing an API.

What other web based products would you recommend to entrepreneurs, business owners, or freelancers?

We use Highrise for our CRM. It’s a 37signals product and it’s been great so far. We started with the free version, which is a great way to get to know the system. Now we pay for the subscription plan, which is very reasonably priced.

We also recommend free web-based image editors like Pixlr.com for small business marketers that can’t afford full-featured software like Photoshop.

And if small businesses need a custom logo design, Inkd.com is a great place to start. We find that a lot of small businesses and startups are in need of a good logo!

We use JangoMail for sending email blasts – there are plenty of other email systems out there, but when you read between the lines, they all have pretty identical features. One nice thing about JangoMail is that they have a robust API.

Google Docs is a great way to store and share important documents and files “in the cloud.” They have their own versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.

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