5 helpful strategies for your upcoming ad campaign

Post written by Aston Calvin
On Monday, September 18th, 2017

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No matter how successful you are as a marketer, it still helps to brush up on your skills. One of these skills involves creating and promoting display ads on the web.

A display ad, also known as a banner ad, refers to a form of online paid advertising typically consisting of copy, image or other forms of media. Unlike text only ads, banner ads put more emphasis on visuals which makes them a pretty powerful form of advertising. For example, a display ad usually comes with bold text with an image in the backdrop and a call to action.

Display advertising is a quick way for marketers to spread the word about their brands and, in the case of ad retargeting campaigns, target people who have already visited their websites but didn’t convert.

To illustrate just how far display ads have come over the years, consider these stats:

  • Amongst the six placement strategies studied by ComScore in 2010, retargeting generated the highest lift in trademark search behavior by up to 1,046% – PRnewswire
  • In 2016, digital ad spend surpassed search ad spend – Emarketer
  • Digital marketing spend in the US will near $120 billion by 2021 – Forrester

Of course, while these statistics make a pretty good case for banner advertisements, it is important to keep the work that goes behind them in mind. Publishers have to keep everything from banner blindness to placement to ensure that their ads are seen and clicked on.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, in this post, you will learn five essential tips that just might provide your ad campaign the exposure it needs to become successful.

1 – Consider ad size

Impressions or the number of times an ad renders on a visitor’s screen, are an important part of display advertising. And their size matters too.

If you are spending any of your marketing budgets on banner ads, you need to know which sizes generate impressions, clicks and the eventual sale.

You can choose from several sizes. Google AdSense considers these to be the most effective for impressions:

  • Medium rectangle (300×250): This is the most served size on Google Display networks, and accounts for a third of all impressions. Choose this size if you want more space for content like images or video. To make it perform well, embed it within text content or at the end of articles.

  • Large rectangle (336×280): This serves the same purpose as the one above but you get more advertising real estate to work with.

  • Leaderboard (728×90): A really wide banner that stretches across your web page is hard to miss and can serve a lot of impressions depending on where you place it. Performs well on forum sites and above main content.

  • Half page (300×600): If rectangles and leaderboards don’t come up to your advertising expectations, the half page might work. You get more space for your hero image and content too.

  • Large mobile banner (320×250): Considering that people browse the web on their mobile devices more than desktops, it makes sense to optimize your display ads for mobile.  The large mobile banner ad offers twice the size of the standard mobile leaderboard (320×50) from AdSense and gives you more bang for your marketing dollar.

2 – Focus on Content Hierarchy

Regardless of size, it’s a mistake to jump right into the design of any display ad without thinking about your business goals and audience’s needs. Randomly placed images or text is a put off. If you want to increase traffic to your website and increase brand awareness, your ad’s content must strike the right balance. Here is how:

  • Your logo should be unobtrusive: Your logo must be prominent but should not dominate components that you want audiences to pay attention to, like your call to action. To illustrate, consider how the logo in this banner ad is placed on the lower right and doesn’t distract us from the brand’s message.

  • Focus on the value proposition: People need a good reason to click on your banner ad. The value proposition gives it to them, should be the first thing that visitors see and take up the most space. Think copy that goes like “Limited time offer” or “Delivered in 30 minutes.”
  • CTA text should prompt clicks: It just isn’t enough to have an ad that says “Click here” on the CTA (call to action) anymore. Phrases like “Learn more,” “Start by signing up” or “Get started” have more of an impact and might prompt visitors to click.


3 – Account for short attention spans

In the boardroom, you don’t have a lot of time to make your business pitch. This timeframe is shorter online where the attention span of the average internet user is less than a few seconds. To make visitors focus on your ad’s message:

  • Keep the copy short: How long does it take you to scan a web page? Recent studies show that millennials in particular have a 5 second attention span for ads. So, if you plan on targeting this audience you might have to make your ad last for 5 to 6 seconds to be effective.
  • Keep your ad uncluttered: Cluttered visuals make people scroll past your ad. Use high quality imagery to make them stop mid-scroll but use them sparingly. For example,  a single image draws more focus and keeps your copy clean.
  • Maintain a consistent tone: To familiarize audiences with your brand, keep aspects like colors and style consistent throughout your ad.
  • Keep the font readable: Don’t use all uppercase or lowercase copy. Mix it up to keep the text readable for visitors scrolling through. For example, keep your value proposition in caps and the rest in a smaller font.
  • Pay attention to placement: Visitors usually scan web content in an “F” shaped pattern and are likely to look for information on where it is most likely to be on a web page. So, information present on the far right of a page gets less attention. To increase ad exposure, Google recommends placing your ads on the top fold or the portion of the page that visitors can see without scrolling down.

4 – Be Creative

You have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention. So, make it count. However, this is easier said than done. Unlike search ads, display ads do not target visitors who actively look for something. Instead, they are tacked onto social feeds or websites in the hopes that visitors might get distracted enough to click.

The proof is in the stats. According to Smart Insights, ad CTR (click through rate) for all formats and placements is just 0.05%. So, getting those clicks seems like a pretty long shot.

To improve your chances, spend some extra time to focus on making your ads creative by:

  • Using custom images: Anyone can find free images in an online image gallery. To encourage visitors to click, use real images in your ads. Google suggests using 24 bit PNG images which look professional.
  • Selling emotions: Emotions stem from a need in a visitor’s mind. Desire, for example, makes someone want to see it fulfilled. For example, copy that goes “A work desk you can afford” might attract the attention of someone looking for a cheap desk and lead to an easy sale for you. To illustrate further, look at how eBay uses clever words to entice visitors to upgrade their kitchens.

  • Get professional help: The professional approach is always better than an amatuer one. Your banner ads will be competing with a lot of other advertisements on the web. Use online editing software to clean up your ad and make it stand out.

5 – Keep it Actionable

At the end of the day, the purpose of any advertisement is to make people convert. Your ad campaign’s conversion rate measures if your ads are actually getting sales.

To improve your own conversion rate, focus on making your ads actionable. Here is how:

  • Say more with less: Your display ad should tell visitors what you have to offer, how it can benefit them and prompt them to take action without explaining itself too much – all at a glance. As an example, consider this banner ad from an insurance company selling car insurance. It depicts a car crash and, instead of explaining why they should click, prompts them to use the helpline number above to call their service immediately.

  • Use statistics: Quantifiable statistics are more powerful than generalised statements. They force people to take notice. For example, a statement like “5000 satisfied customers and counting” might get more clicks as opposed to “We have what you need.”
  • Ask questions: When visitors encounter questions that address their concerns, they are more likely to click to get the answer. For example, a service like “Residential Mortgage Services” becomes “Need help paying for your home?”

Wrapping Up

To recap, choose your display ad’s size according to your business goals and audience. Everything from your CTA design to value proposition has an impact on clicks. Attention spans are short, so keep your message concise and your design uncluttered. Lastly, keep your message actionable to improve chances for conversions.

About the Author:
Aston Calvin is working as a professional content strategist at Cygnis Media. During his spare time, he likes brushing up on his knowledge on the latest innovations and trends that would benefit mobile and web app designers.

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