Banner exchange programs offer a simple service. If you post a certain number of banner ads on your site, they will post your banner ad on another site. Usually, this isn't an even exchange; you have to post more than one banner ad for every one of your banner ads they post. This is how the exchange program makes a profit. Their arrangement yields them more banner ad spaces than actual banner ads they need to place for their members, so they can sell the extra banner ad spaces to paying advertisers. The exact ratio varies, but 2:1, posting two banner ads on your site for every one of yours posted on another site, is a typical arrangement.
Most banner exchange programs distribute banner ads in the same way. For every banner ad you've decided to display, the exchange provides you with a piece of HTML code. This code instructs a visitor's Web browser to bring up a banner ad from the exchange program's server. This enables the exchange program to easily change which banner ads are on which sites. They can also monitor the success of particular banner ads on particular member sites, which helps them to pair sites with suitable advertisers.
The advantage of joining a banner exchange program is it's a free way to get other sites to post your banner ads. The disadvantage is that you give up a lot of control over where your ads are posted and what ads are posted on your site. In most cases, the banner exchange program chooses where to put its members' banner ads, and you may not like what they decide to post on your site or where they end up posting your banner ad. Most banner exchange programs attempt to link banner ads and sites intelligently, and they often do a good job, but there is a possibility that at some point you will be dissatisfied with a banner ad that ends up on your site.
Some major banner exchange programs are:
It's pretty easy to join a banner exchange program. Go to any of the above sites and they will walk you through their particular process. It's definitely a good idea to shop around, because different banner exchange programs have different strengths. Some programs concentrate on effective banner placement more than others, and some specialize in Web sites that feature a particular subject matter, such as religion or kid interests. Most banner exchange programs are free to join, but some also offer a better exchange ratio for a small fee.