Banner ads are among the most popular and effective forms of online marketing. Banner ads are advertisements embedded into a web page. They feature images and text that highlight a specific product or service. Though they vary in size, all banner ads contain a link to the advertiser’s web page.
In addition to being effective, banner ads are measurable and relatively inexpensive. Not all banner advertisements are created equally, however. Following specific design guidelines can help you increase the likelihood that your banner ad will translate into more clicks and, ultimately, more leads and sales. The following are thirteen tips to follow as you create your next banner ad:
Include The “Big Three”
A banner logo must contain three components in order to be effective: your company logo, a value proposition, and a call to action.
The value proposition directs the viewer’s attention to your product/service and highlights a special offer or relevant claim. Many companies offer free trial subscriptions via banner advertisements as a part of the value proposition. Your ad’s value proposition should take up more space than your company logo or the call to action.
A call to action is exactly what it sounds like, namely an invitation for a prospective customer to visit your own landing page or company website. Your call of action link should be a distinct focal point in any effective banner ad.
Certain banner sizes seem to be more effective at naturally drawing the eye. According to Google Adsense, the four most effective, and therefore most popular ad sizes are as follows:
- 728×90 pixels (Leaderboard)
- 300X600 pixels (Half Page)
- 300×250 pixels (Medium Rectangle)
- 336×280 pixels (Large Rectangle)
When you create your next banner ad, remember that size matters. Choose one of the above recommended sizes for maximum effect.
The location of your banner ad can make a huge difference in the number of clicks your ad generates. Make sure to buy space close to a site’s main content. A well-placed and well-designed banner ad will draw the eye only for a second or so. As such, you’ll want to make sure as many eyes see your banner as possible.
Also, make sure your ad is placed above the host website’s “fold.” To place an ad above a web page’s “fold” means that a viewer need not scroll down to find your banner. The most effective banner advertisements are the easiest to find or, conversely, the hardest to avoid.
Keep It Simple
This is good advice in general, and certainly so when it comes to advertising. A simply designed advertisement tends to draw and hold the eye better than does a more elaborate one. A banner holds the eye for only around a second, so you want to be able to impart as much useful information as possible without overwhelming the viewer. The most effective way to do this is to be concise and not overwhelm a reader with over-technical or wordy copy.
Make Sure Copy Is Legible
Visual appeal is a key component in any effective banner advertisement. As such, banner ads should be clear and easy to read. Be sure to use fonts over 10pt. for your copy, and always use a larger font for headlines. Avoid cursive fonts, as they tend to take longer to read. Remember, you’re asking visitors to spend a few seconds of their precious time to consider your product or services, the least you can do is to make it as easy as possible for them.
Use Clearly Defined Areas
Research shows that a subject within a frame tends to draw the eye. Make sure your banner ad employs a clearly-defined frame. If your advertisement is white, it’s customary to use a one-pixel-wide gray frame. It should also be noted that the most effective banner ads contain graphics that extend to the boundaries of their frames.
Stand Out – But Not Too Much
Craft your banner ad to compliment the site or sites on which it will be featured. By doing so you establish a level of trust with visitors and even borrow a bit of the host site’s credibility. Take care, though, lest your ad should blend completely with the host site, thereby losing its effect.
As a rule, banner advertisements containing animation outperform those that don’t. Before you rush to include animation in your banner ad, though, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep animations under fifteen seconds
- Don’t allow animations to loop more than three times
- Remember that when it comes to visuals, less can be more
When you choose an animation for your banner ad, the most important thing is to be sure it doesn’t distract from your message. Keep in mind too, that a call to action could be incorporated into the last frame of your animation.
Effective banner ads contain links that direct visitors to the advertiser’s website. If your banner ad is in any way inconsistent with your website or landing page, you risk damaging the rapport you’ve established through your well-designed ad. Such inconsistencies are confusing at best and may prove off-putting at worst.
Add A Bit Of Urgency
Subtle urgency in the design of a banner ad can lead to more clicks. A great trick for adding a sense of urgency to your banner ad is to use bold, contrasting colors for the text of your copy. Pay attention to the next few banner ads you see; you’ll be surprised how many use this simple, yet effective technique.
When It Comes To Graphics – Less Is More
A well-chosen graphic can increase an ad’s visual appeal. Conversely, the wrong graphics can distract from your message. Be sure that any graphic you choose to include in your banner is relevant to your ad’s value statement and its call to action. Remember too that sometimes good copy, presented in contrasting colors and an appropriate font, can be just as effective as any image or animation.
Harness The Power Of Color
Color is one of the first things a viewer notices about your banner ad, and different colors have different psychological effects on people. Knowing what certain colors signify can help you craft an ad meant to speak to your target audience at a subconscious level. Here are a few of the more common associations:
- Red: Love, Excitement, Passion, Anger
- Orange: Playful and Energetic
- Yellow: Friendliness and Cheer
- Green: Wealth, Growth, Nurturing, Health
- Blue: Maturity, Safety, Trust, Formality
- Purple: Luxury, Wisdom, Royalty, Extravagance
- Pink: Love, Femininity, Youth
- Black: Power, Mystery, Exclusivity, Formality
- White: Innocence, Purity, Honesty
- Gray: Practicality, Neutrality
- Brown: Toughness, Masculinity, Nature
As a final note on use of color, be moderate in your use of red text. Red is perhaps the most emotionally charged color and, while it is attractive to most audiences, it can send the wrong message and even prove overwhelming if overused.
Mind Your File Size and Type
Remember that visitors to a website are not there to see your advertisement. They’ve come for the content, and if your ad takes too long to load odds are visitors will scroll past before they ever see it. There’s a very small window of opportunity during which an ad may capture a person’s attention, and you can’t afford to miss it. Google AdSense suggests a file size of under 150kb for optimal loading of your banner ad.
When it comes to the type of file you upload, keep in mind that Flash Animations are no longer supported by most operating systems. The “go-to” deliverable files for banner ad uploads are now JPG, PNG, GIF, or HTML5. Files produced with Adobe Illustrator and/or Photoshop will be of the JPG, PNG, and GIF type. Those produced using Adobe Animate or Google Web Designer will be HTML5 files.
Banner ads are ubiquitous. They are also popular, effective, measurable, and relatively inexpensive. If you aren’t already, be sure and utilize this remarkable marketing tool. Keep in mind, though, that there are many considerations that go into effective banner ad design, and we ignore them at our peril.
An ad’s location, copy, color, graphics, and even its font-size all contribute or detract from its overall effectiveness. Review the above suggestions before creating your next banner ad, and you’ll increase the likelihood that fleeting glances will become clicks and even sales.