Techdirt reckons the banner ad is dead and that content is advertising. It’s an opportunity to re-inforce your company values, help your audience in some way and interact with them.
I think people are smart to advertising and tend to ignore them: the even smarter may deploy ad blocking software so they don’t even see them. However, they search Google, read reviews, trawl forums; in short they do their research. Content is still king, and blogging and forums are great tools to encourage interaction and discussion.