Designing a banner or more specifically designing a banner that actually works and converts is hard work. The most important part of any banner of course is that fine balance between great design and well crafted copy. Get the mixture just right and your click through rate could jump through the roof.
I personally believe that the process of creating a great banner ad starts by crafting a powerful message. For me the words define the message you want to convey and dictate the images that you should use. After you have got some great copy in your banner ad you can then focus on the eye popping design.
By the way, speaking of banner ads, do you know what the very first banner ad looks like? Here, have a peek to this interesting article (and simple trial) to see how it looks like. It’s the very first ever banner on the Internet. Imagine how this 20 year old banner ad would perform today.
Though the banner ad is definitely old fashioned it is simple, readable and there is some pretty good copywriting too. Let me know if you ever decide to use this design for one of your own ads. I’d be interested to find out how well the design would convert today 😉
Here I want to explain three big points that help you (in technical side) on banner ad creation. These three points cover the banner ad fundamental design guidelines. Then we have a look back at the best banner ads of 2014 (so you can learn from other people experiences), and some great software that can help you creating your banner ad.
Fundamental guidelines of banner ad:
- Shape and Size
Before talking further about the design of a banner ad lets cover the basics. First things first; you need to know the best size and shape of the canvas that you will be designing on and where better to get that information than a University study?
An investigation on the effect of banner advertisement type and shape on click-through and conversion rates by Eetu Kuneinen (Bangkok University) – concluded that the best performing shape for CTR ( Click-through-rate/Impressions) was a square banner. The best converting shape was rectangle. Comparing combined type and shape showed that a static square led to best CTR.
Here Google shares about the Top performing ad sizes and other supported ad sizes. According to these results 300×250 is the top performing size for banner ads. Within the article you can also read a few suggestions about where to place your banner to get the best results. According to this research the worst performing banner ad size was 125×125. The reason that banner ads this size perform so poorly is apparently because the size is too small to see properly. This imposes limitations not only on the design, but also the amount of copy that you can include within the advertisement.
So in conclusion, all of this research tells you some simple facts; make sure that your banner ad isn’t too small. Secondly, though this is probably more important, a 300×250 banner ad works the best.
What components should be on your banner ad?
“The three key objectives every banner ad must accomplish to drive maximum conversion” presented by Dr. Flint McGaughlin, Spencer Whiting and Taylor Kennedy (originally held on August 31, 2011) stated that the goal of an effective banner ad is to get a qualified click.
According to the research an effective or a qualified banner ad must powerfully accomplish three key objectives:
- Attract Attention (Affected by size, shape, color, motion and position)
- Generate Interest – A banner ad must have its own value proposition (Appeal, Exclusivity, Credibility, Clarity)
- Ask for the click (include a Call to Action)
From there we can move forward to the key components that need to be inside your banner ad:
There are no strict rules that say that you need to have your logo in your banner ad, but that is an important part to quickly tell the audience what company is offering the products / service (with space at a premium and a picture saying a thousand words, it’s a good solution). Including a logo within the banner also quickly build trust in the copy from the audience (that is of course if the audience actually recognise the logo that is included within the banner ad).
– Value Proposition
Value proposition, in marketing, is an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. In short it is the benefit of your products / services. This component should be central to your copy. Customers basically need to feel like they want your product or service. Put yourself in your customers shoes when you’re considering the value proposition. What would you want from your product or service if you were the consumer?
– Body Copy
No. We aren’t talking about long body copy (that’s a completely different thing). This body copy should explain a tiny bit more about the value proposition and leave the viewers interested (and curious) enough to make that vital click (the one you need them to make so you can get those conversions).
Since banner ads probably only receive one second or two seconds of your potential customers attention while they are reading article you need to grab their attention. For this reason you should be extra careful with when crafting your body copy.
Good body copy should have value, be interesting, be simple to read and short enough that the message gets absorbed in just 1-2 seconds.
Though using an image or graphic seems legit and can be a great tool to attract attention as well as generate interest. However you should only use an image or graphic when it is appropriate or when it is needed.
If you can effectively demonstrate your products / services benefits using a photo/graphic, then it is normally the best tactic. Of course, humor is also a great way to grab someones attention, but more on that in a bit.
– CTA (call to action)
The Call To Action is one of the most vital parts of any piece of copy. Unsurprisingly it plays a hugely important role within the design of a banner ad. I know just how important it can be, because of how easy it is for a user to get lost or distracted if there is no clear call to action.
A button that asks the viewers to interact with it is a must. Otherwise your viewers don’t know what they’re really supposed to do (with the banner ad). The result of course is no click on your banner.
- Let it breathe!
It is pretty difficult to find a case study on how simple or complex banner design has an impact on click through rates. Believe me though, simple is always the best. Your banner ad must have a clear focus and too much clutter gets in the way of your message!
By the way, having a static banner isn’t a problem. However, dynamic is eye catching, which is why dynamic banners are becoming the standard on a lot of big international magazines and newspapers. Static banners still work well though (and of course, it’s important to keep in mind the context. On some sites you just don’t want to have dynamic banners jumping all over the screen),
One big mistake that a lot of advertisers make is trying to include too much copy. A lot of advertisers try to pack too much information about the benefits of their products / services to their customer within banners. Too much information often end up conveying nothing at all. Now that sounds like a hyperbole, but it’s true!
To sum up. Your banner advertisement should be eye-catching, explain your offer quickly and clearly and most importantly (given the size of most banners) be very easy to read. as long as it is simple enough to be digested within seconds.
Creative Banner Ads Example:
By having the line (as if) going outside the Adidas – Line Runner banner ad area it coveys the message that “Impossible is Nothing.” Or in simple English, “Everything is Possible”. Though the animation can be a bit messy, I like the idea of how responsive the banner ad is.
Simple and yet powerful. The message to be conveyed by Fiat is actually quite simple and is common, but Fiat communicates their message in a creative and memorable way. Drink it down. Don’t drink and drive. Fiat. That is it the copy of the banner ad. It is supported by a very clean and beautiful dynamic graphics. The result is a very nice and qualified banner ad.
Isn’t this banner ad is genius? The one word that sums up Ikea for me is simple design. Furniture or any home decor that you buy at Ikea most likely comes in a flat packaging just like the banner ad. In the ad Ikea requires us to assemble the banner and gives us an incentive to “save money” through this announcement. The advert is very engaging, clear and memorably.
This Panadol banner ad is a champion. Perhaps it would be a bit annoying for some people, but in my opinion it is clear, creative and will succeed in attracting attention. This ad illustrates the message that the company wanted to convey, quickly, clearly and creatively.
It’s an interesting take on what a headache feels like and it offers that solution. The feeling of a headache instantly disappearing… Clearing Your Head – Panadol ActiFast – Fast Forward Pain Away.
Test Your Banners
Above are several creative banner ads examples. You can see that the banner ads are very engaging (often funny) and get the viewers attention.
Besides learning from other people experiences, we can also do tests for our banner ads. When it comes to split testing, you want to get as much useful information as possible, to improve your click through rates. Wait! If you’ve never run a split test before you’ll need to pay attention to these simple, but vital, rules.
The guidelines on split testing for your banner ad:
– Keep your tests simple – This means only testing one variable at a time. Don’t overdo your split test by trying to test more than one variable at a time, it wont work. Your results won’t be objective.
– Have clear and measurable goals – and make sure to test your results until you are 98% certain that they are valid. This means no shortcuts, you want statistically significant results.
– Go big – Don’t be afraid to try different approaches. If it is needed to have a different value proposition then go with it, test it!
Besides running your own split tests, you can also ask the opinion from co-workers (the ones who have’t seen you developing your banner ad would be best) or friends (or even family). Getting a fresh perspective from those around you is often the best way to get good input and insights.
A Simple Software Solution to Banner Design
Like I said at the beginning of this post, creating a great Banner Ad start with crafting a powerful message. Once you have finished with your powerful message then you can start to create the design of your banner ad.
With Yougzin you don’t need to worry about creating complex beautiful designs. You’ll actually be surprised at how easy designing a beautiful high converting banner can be. Check this video out to get a better view on how this software works.
Last, after the whole article about banner asa. I hope you find it useful. I want to remind you to also think about your landing page and work hard on it- don’t let your potential customers, those people who have already clicked on your banner ad leave your website without making a purchase. Have an integrated strategy is always good.
All the best for your business!