i was looking at banners for some programs i consider good programs, and some of the banners looked very nice. actually they looked like pics of guys with the site title on the pics.
here’s the thing. over the years, i’ve tested this over and over, and so have other webmaster. telling people to click leads to a lot more clicks - 50% or more. in my lowest results ever, still 30%. so the ones who notice the banner and don’t click? if they like it, they may type in the domain, or the banner may work as branding, which is good for the program but not necessarily the affiliate.
of course, just putting a big animated Click Here won’t do it - it takes skillful design. having a hot guy AND a call to action on a banner is a handy thing!