Today’s post is by Sr. Account Manager Sana Ansari, resident GDN rock star.

We all know that CTR and conversion rates on banner ads pales in comparison to good search ads – but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve the numbers. Here are six ways to improve the performance of any banner ad.

1.       Make sure your ads are relevant to the ad group/audience being targeted. For example, if I have an ad group targeting the Food & Dining interest category for a home decor site, my ad should include at least one kitchen product. If I’m targeting people interested in applying for nursing jobs who are going onto nursing-related sites, my ad should relay messaging around helping create a resumé specifically for nurses.

relevant banner ad

2.       If your client does not have any brand presence, you must test ads that point out what makes your client better than the others. Why should consumers pick your client over a more familiar competitor? Don’t put the main focus on the brand in the ad; instead focus on the competitive message. Does your client have a special sale? Is there a feature your client has that others don’t? Highlight whatever it is that separates you from the rest.

banner ad unknown brand

Haven’t heard of these guys, but awards and free trials sound good.

3.       Use a call to action. (No explanation needed…but, surprisingly, tons of banner ads don’t do this.)

4.       Showcase the product(s). If you’re selling a product, make sure there’s a good image of it in your ad. If you sell multiple products, showcase the variety your client has to offer to reach a broader audience. As always, test what works and what doesn’t.

banner ad product

5.       Use short and simple messaging. When someone sees your ad, it has to be easy to read and understand. Give yourself about one second to make an impression (so to speak); is the point of your ad digestible that quickly?

banner ad messaging

6.       Optimize colors and sizing for visibility. Use colors that are easy on the eyes, and definitely make sure that the size of the font is easy to read. Large, clear font is key. Pretty much the rule of thumb is: if it’s hard to read, you decrease chances of users clicking on the ad.

Anything you think I’ve missed? Leave a comment!

Sana Ansari

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One thought on “Design better banner ads

  1. Your advice sounds intuitive and I would agree is definitely the Conventional Wisdom but unfortunately is more theory than reality and written from a ppc best-practice / view of the world . Display often doesn’t follow most the rules you cite (except for easy to read font and concise messages) and frankly, you never know what’s going to work where. It’s generally not a bad idea to start with relevant /targeted placements & ads but what turns out to work is often not an intuitive fit and the only real way to have success is through testing, testing and more testing. Just my 2 cents.

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