Beautiful Display Ads Are Hard To Find

I consider myself a 21st Century Digital Boy (thank you Bad Religion), I literally spend half my day on the computer. For me, it’s sad and disgusting how many terrible display (banner) ads are floating around the web. Display Ads are starting to look more like bus stop benches with their cheesy advertisements and ugly layout.

Yes, the odds are stacked against us. Do you remember the last display ad you saw? As mentioned in the introductory blog post to this series titled “Finding A Home For Display Ads“, we have plenty of statistics that tell us how terrible display ads perform. It doesn’t help when we have so much display junk floating around in the ocean of internet.

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What makes a display ad stand out? I’ve looked over tons of image ads and created plenty of them myself, and I have realized a few tricks to what works and what doesn’t work. These are not just design principles. These principles have been effective in generating qualified clicks for your ad campaign.

#1 – A Fitting Title

It would be easy to replace the previous heading with “Clear Title”, however hundreds of people have already posted articles on that topic. What is more applicable at this point to understand is that not only does your title need to be clear, but it also needs to relate to your ad campaign, and most importantly, your landing page!

Allow people to brainlessly transition from your ad to the title of your landing page. If you sell T-shirts, and your landing page title says “Summer Clearance On All T-shirts”, what do you suppose would be a proper title for your display ad?

  1. Perfect Fathers Day Gift
  2. Summer T-shirt Clearance
  3. Custom T-Shirt Design

Ding! Ding! Ding! If you guessed #2, you are correct! This title allows for a smooth transition from the display ad to the landing page that will follow. If you guessed #1, its not a bad guess. However I think this would be more fitting for a subtitle that supports the main title.

#2 – Supportive Messaging

“Behind every great man there is a great woman”… This is the purpose of our subtitles. These subtitles support the main title and promote the value of the ad. We can also call the subtitles the messaging, regardless of what we call it, the messaging needs to back up the main title, and lead into the call to action.
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#3 – Descriptive Call To Action

This display ad tweak should be remembered throughout all of your internet marketing efforts. Think of it this way… What do you want the user to do after seeing the ad? Of course you want them to click on it, but what will the “clicking” do?

Put yourself in the users position. Here you are reading an article from your favorite news feed and you see this ad that catches your eye. At this moment you haven’t finished reading your article, and you’re a little nervous to leave the webpage where you feel safe. This nervousness is only amplified when the Call to Action button reads “Click Here”.

Click here? For what?! In the words of my wife, “Don’t tell me how to live my life!”
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Be descriptive in what clicking your ad is going to do, or where it is going to bring the user. If your ad is for the Summer Clearance on T-shirts, then your call to action should be something like “Shop Our Clearance Shirts”.

#4 – Logo Usage

Sometimes this last bit is forgotten in the display ads we see. You could argue the need for your logo in your display ads, especially if adding it only clutters up the overall appearance. However, I would argue that your logo is needed.

One of the great benefits from running display ads is the ability to get your brand out there. Display ads are great for creating brand recognition and awareness. Your logo ads validity and trust to your image ad, and folks need to trust you before leaving the websites they trust.

Display Ad Element Recap

It’s tempting to stuff as much information as possible into the ad, after all, this is your opportunity to say whatever you want. Don’t do it!

Beautiful display ads are designed with the 4 simple elements. Stick to these elements and your display ads are sure to rock AND produce results that will make your marketing team smile.