Display Ad Design: Fast, Loud, and Easy to Screw Up

 In Digital Marketing

Digital Display ads are rapidly becoming one of the most prominent, and effective, pieces of advertising for companies in all markets and backgrounds. Every day, online users are flooded with a torrent of banners, popups, and flash videos. So how does your company stand out in the minefield of ads on today’s most popular web pages, and do so without turning off their target audience? The answer is in the design. Using these tips, your company can ensure their ads are hitting on the right target, at the right time, and with the right message.

1) Use the most effective ad sizes

Google display ad sizes can have a tremendous effect on overall effectiveness of the ad. The sizes themselves can drastically alter the visibility of the ad, and thus induce a greater impact on the target audience. According to Google AdSense, the most effective display ad sizes are:

  • 728×90 banner
  • 160×600 vertical banner
  • 300×250 rectangle
  • 336×280 rectangle
  • 320×50 mobile banner

Vertical banners are usually seen as the most viewable, as they take longer to scroll through. However, a full digital campaign should include multiple sizes and multiple placements. Google’s own studies have consistently shown that best ad placement for viewability is on the right just above the fold (the point where the user’s browser ends and they must begin scrolling), rather than at the very top as many people would assume. Click here for a full guide to all of Google’s ad sizes and click here for Facebook advertisement guidelines.

2) Hierarchy

Proper design hierarchy is needed even on something as simple as a digital display ad. The hierarchy includes the company logo, value proposition, and a call to action.
A prominent company logo is important to increase brand awareness and maintain a consistent branding throughout your campaign.
The value proposition is where you are drawing the audience in. What are you trying to sell them on? It could be anything from a discount to political ideology.
And last, and perhaps most important, is the call to action. This is where you get your target to make the proper interaction with the advertisement. Whether it’s a button to sign a petition or a link to an online coupon, it must be distinct, urgent, and easy to follow.

3) Keep it simple

Digital advertising design should be centered around the idea that your target audience will most likely see the ad for only a fraction of a second. You need something bold to draw the eye in, even during frenzied page scrolling.
For text, avoid overly “fancy” fonts and cursive. Simple, sans serif, and bold should be your three guiding factors on font choice. Always try to maintain heavy contrast between your text and your graphics so they can be picked out in the blink of an eye.
Images should also be kept simple, if going with a picture rather than illustrated graphics or simple color backgrounds. You don’t want anything in the ad imagery distracting from your value proposition and call to action.
For overall color scheme, try sticking somewhat to your company’s branding, while still striving to achieve a contrast between the advertisement and the web page it is placed on.

4) Define the frame

The human eye is naturally drawn to content inside clearly defined frames. If your ad background is white, consider adding a thin grey or black border to the edge, so your advertisement does not get lost in the content of the website where it is placed.

5) Buttons

Buttons have been shown to increase click-through rates, and thus can become an important asset to your digital ad design. Make sure that your button contrasts the body of the ad, but is not too distracting. Lead the viewer’s eye in a linear path from logo, to value proposition, to the call to action at the end, which is the most effective use of a button link.

6) File sizes and loading times

Typical file types for digital ads are PNG’s and JPG’s. The smaller you can get the file size of the final ad without losing image quality, the better. Smaller file sizes mean faster load times, thus lessening the chance of the audience missing out on your advertisement.
PNG’s can usually be made much smaller than JPGs or GIFs, especially when utilizing adobe creative suite’s “save for web” features. When using save for web, you can chose web optimization which will automatically reduce the number of colors used and optimize resolution, often cutting the file size drastically. These can also be manually lowered for even smaller file sizes. You typically want to keep your files under 150kb for fastest loading times.

7) Instilling a sense of urgency

Perhaps the most important aspect of strategic digital ad design is instilling a sense of urgency in the audience. They may be only seeing your ad for a fraction of a second, and in that time you need to get them to stop what they are doing and take the action you want them to take.
While digital ads can lead to longer term decisions, they are more often encouraging immediate action from your audience. Urgency is the incentive you offer your audience through digital ads to get them to take a desired action. Urgency should be created using the value proposition. One example of creating urgency is to make your proposition time sensitive to really draw them in immediately.

8) Branding

Last but not least, maintaining a consistent branding for your digital campaign is just as important as it would be for a multi-million dollar print and television campaign. There needs to be that repetition of imagery across all platforms in order to have a truly effective impact on your target audience.

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