The 4 Golden Rules for Creating Awesome Banner Ads

First up: welcome to the inaugural Weekly Advertiser Tips post, where we’ll be looking at ways for you to improve your campaign performance. This week; we’re taking a look at banner ads.

Genesis… The Birth of Banner Ads

The banner ad boom started started with this gloriously terrible banner ad from AT&T back in 1994. I say terrible, but, to be fair, at the time, their goal wasn’t necessarily to generate sales, it was to see if people would actually click on this crazy new thing that was appearing in the Netscape Navigator window (remember Netscape Navigator?).

Creating Awesome Ad Banners

This is where it all started…

You see back then, there was almost no precedent for banner ads. Nobody knew how, or even if it would perform, there were no rules. But, oh, how times have changed. Now, there’s all manner of different devices and ad formats think about when you’re putting together your ad campaigns.

So, where are we now? What is it that makes a good ad banner stand out from the crowd?

1. Include a call to action

Almost every digital ad should have some kind of call to action. Something that tells the user what is being asked of them. What is it you want your audience to do? Do you want them to sign up for your service? Do you want them to complete a survey? It’s very important to tell them this in the ad itself.

Creating Awesome Ad Banners 2

Here they’ve combined a clear, CTA button and some humour.

To help smooth things along a little bit, you can also use buttons to make the call to action stand out from the rest of the ad banner. Yes, we pretty much all know that the whole ad is clickable, but by including something that is very obviously interactive might mean the difference between your next lead and your ad being ignored.

2. Keep it simple

Like many things, less really can mean more. It’s very important not to confuse your audience, by bombarding them with too many messages, call to actions, pictures or making your banner flash rapidly and constantly.

It’s a good idea to limit your ad banner to one of each of the following:

One message
One call to action
One image
One brand mark

By sticking to one of each of these, each element is given more room to “breathe”, meaning it can stand out more and ultimately making the ad itself clearer.

3. Make it look good

This one seems a bit obvious but the importance of the visual appeal of a banner ad cannot be overlooked. If you’re going to go with an image in your ad, make sure it is something that matches the message it is there to support. The image should also allow any text within the ad to be instantly readable.

Creating Awesome Ad Banners 3

Clear text, clear CTA, appealing use of color and a clear message.

You should also remember that, sometimes, especially on many modern, high-resolution desktop displays, banner ads can look quite small, so, with smaller formats, you may need to stay away from photo-based imagery altogether and stick with clever uses of color. And, on the subject of color; always try to ensure that whatever colors you choose, you use consistently and that they complement other elements in the ad.

4. Send them where they need to go

You’ve put all the effort in. You’ve figured out a powerful message to draw in your customers. You’ve designed your awesome display campaign. Don’t blow it all by sending your users to the wrong page.
If you’re ad is asking a user to register for a product, on clicking your ad they should reach a landing page with some more info about your product and also where they can enter their information. If your ad is asking them to buy a lawnmower, they should land on a page where they can buy that lawnmower!Creating Awesome Ad Banners 4

Creating Awesome Ad Banners 5

The content, look and feel of the banner is carried across to the landing page.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your landing page should work with and compliment the banner ad: the graphic style should be the same, the messages should match up and, if you make a promise in your ad, you should explain how you intend to deliver on that promise on your landing page. What the user sees after clicking on your ad should support what they’ve already seen and seek to move them along your conversion “flow”.

Next week, we’ll be looking into more useful tips to optimize your ad campaigns, so stay tuned for more! And, as always, if you have any tips, or if you find any of these particularly useful, let us know in the comments section below or get in touch via social media.

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