A Step By Step Guide To More Clickable Banner Ads

Banner ads are one of the most common forms of advertising used in the online world. As an affordable, effective and measurable medium they enable companies to draw the attention to the brand and attract traffic back to advertiser’s web page. However, much like any other form of advertising, the success of a banner ad often depends on its design. The reasoning is simple - better design will make you stand out from the crowd, improve your click-through rate and ultimately get you ahead of the game. Even if you have no designing experience there are some cool and free design applications such as Content Creator that have beautiful typography templates that you can pair with photos and create banner ads on your iPhone or iPad in just few minutes. However, you need to know that creating an ad is not just about putting some photos and text together and hoping for the best. As we have examined best practices in banner advertising we are here to share with you what a creative and effective online ad is really all about:

Size Matters
Of course there is no one-size-fits-all type of banner ad as the size needs to be adjusted to requirements of a particular site but Google AdSense is stating that: “wider ad sizes tend to outperform their taller counterparts”. It is presumed that the position of such ads and the fact that it’s more comfortable to read from left to right are among reasons why these sizes are so popular. For more information about top performing sizes check out the Google Ad guide.

Make It Simple
Easier said than done, I agree. Many companies are trying to put too many information into one ad and in the end everything looks busy, confusing and even suspicious. As a general rule-of-thumb your ad should stand up to the 2 second glance during which it should be clear to the audience who you are and what you are saying. So keep it minimal and clean with no more than 10 words per ad. Take a look at the example below where powerful background and product color are contrasted with minimal text and visible call-to-action button. It is simple, functional and to the point. 

Create an Order
If there is no order in the way you arrange your text, viewers will not know where to look first and where to start reading. Greater size indicates greater importance, so use that logic when arranging your visual elements. Use one size (bigger or bolder) for the main text and another for additional text and call to action (button). Keep in mind that the font style, size and the total amount of text should be adapted for smaller mobile screens so do NOT use embellished, shadowed or extremely thin fonts nor the ones that are smaller than 10 pt. font size. Stick to simple sans serif fonts that are direct, trustworthy and easy to read. When in doubt about font color remember that black or white work best in most ads.

Choose Relevant Images
Complex or too abstract images take longer to scan and understand so it’s important to make banner ad images obvious and relevant to the ad. If you choose to go with high quality product images surround them with a lot of empty space so that the product and the message can come to focus.

In case you decide on using photos of people you can try looking for some free people photos at Pexels or Picjumbo, as they have separate “people category”, but for more close-up photos of human faces you will have to go to budget photo stocks such as Istock or Shutterstock. Always make sure that a person in the ad matches the persona of your buyer or rely on the power of brand ambassadors and celebrities that embody and promote brand values.

Build Trust With Logo
In case your banner ad doesn’t have a logo viewers will not know who is behind the ad so they will probably never click on it. That is why it’s important to use Content Creator app and place your logo on the top or bottom of the ad, depending on the placement of the copy. Keep it visually dominant but not as much as the main call to action. If you don’t want to put your logo at least write your brand name or web site as a signal to viewers that there is a real landing page behind the ad. In that case, even if viewers fail to click-through, you will still generate brand awareness with impressions.

Rely on Your Colors
Branding of your ad should be consistent with branding of other marketing materials not only in terms of images and fonts but also in terms of color. It will significantly improve brand recall and leverage brand identity. You can choose to have your signature color dominantly present on the image or you can choose to use your color for the call-to-action button only. In the latter case you can make the button stand out even more by adding a (transparent) background or filter to your ad image.

Call Them To Action
Once viewers notice your image and read the message what do you want them to do? Go to your website or e-shop, right? For that to happen your ad must inform viewer on what they need to do and what in return could they expect to receive once they click through. Best place to give such instruction (aka. call to action or CTA) are buttons, positioned at the end of your message or at the bottom of the ad. When possible use bright colors or prominent sizes for the button so that it can become a focal point of the ad. Most frequent CTA’s are “click here”, “buy now” or “sign up” but you can expand on that to give more information about the choice that is ahead of them. For example you can write: “Click here to save 25%”, “Watch now for free”, “Redeem now”.

In the end don’t forget to follow through, as the ad is just a small part of a much bigger picture and it must be linked to a landing page that looks and feels like an ad. This means that if your ad promises 50% mid-year sale your landing page has to deliver on that promise through the same offer, image style, font and color.

Where do you stand when it comes to banner ads? Do you use them or pay attention to their design? Are there some other design tips that have proven to be effective for you? Please share them in the comments section below!