Creating Effective Banner Ads for your Clients

Banner ads are one of the best forms of marketing used in today’s online world.  All companies use them in one form or another because they’re an affordable, measurable, and effective way to increase brand awareness.

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Every day we are tasked with taking client information and turning that into effective radio campaigns.  We should put just as much effort into their banner ad creative.  Radio ads build awareness and get people indoors.  Banner ads build awareness and get visitors to our client’s digital doors (websites).  It’s your job to create a banner ad that will bring in those clicks!

Here are some tips and general guidelines for designing effective banner ads.

Stick to Standard Banner Ad Sizes:  Research has shown that wider ad sizes tend to outperform their taller counterparts.  Much of this may have to do with placement above the scroll and because it is more comfortable to read from left to right, rather than stacked text.  So here are the sizes you should consider first:

728 pixels by 90 pixels leaderboard
300 by 250 medium rectangle
300 by 600 half-page
320 by 50 mobile banner

It’s best to adhere to standard image sizes, especially if you plan on agency buys.  Most agencies will have creative ready to go in the standard image sizes.  If you use non-standard sizes within your site, you may have to recreate their creative each time or get passed over for the buy.  Once you have your sizes down and you’re ready to create…

Maintain the Essentials: Every banner ad needs three elements: Branding, message, and encouragement to click.  The challenge is that you don’t have much room for this but all three of these elements are essential.

If you are including this in a bundled buy with a radio schedule, the overall message should be the same.  What is your client offering and why should people want it? Then include the client logo or identification.  Remember that banner ads must be easily readable.  Then finish with an actionable reason to click.

Use Only One Message Per Ad: Banner ads should never be a length rotation of messages.  Animated gifs can be used to grab focus but should NOT be used for displaying endless ad copy.  Nobody but you and the client will read it all.

Start with a static ad first.  If it doesn’t fully get across the essentials mentioned above, only then should you try to add animated elements.  The message should be the most important thing in every ad – NOT moving elements.

Include a Great Call to Action: I know I mentioned this already, but it’s worth mentioning again.  The goal of a banner ad is to get clicked.  A good call to action does this.  What are users supposed to do next?  This can include signing up for an email list, getting a discount and so on.  But you must clearly tell users to perform this action. Instead of “Learn More”, say something like, “Click to get half off lunch today!”

Bring a sense of visual urgency to the text by using contrasting, bold colors. Web ads are not always meant to be subtle.

Make sure the ad design is consistent with the client’s branding: Make sure it looks consistent with the client’s branding and the landing page it links to so that their potential customers don’t get confused.

Include a Button: Easy-to-follow instructions are vital to most consumers. While most users know they can click anywhere on an ad, sometimes including an actual button within the image is the “extra” that makes them move the mouse.  It does not have to be fancy.  But a simple “Shop Now” or “Click to Win” button can go a long way to getting users to make the switch from viewer to conversion.

Choose Fonts Wisely: The smaller the space, the more important fonts become. Make the most of the space provided with strong typefaces that are easy to read.

Go big with the headline. Use something that’s bold, a little unusual or colorful to grab attention from users.  Stick to a simple serif or sans serif font for everything else. You can use two sizes or bold – one for main text and another for buttons or calls to action.  Just make sure it is easy to read.

Use imagery well, and only when you need it: Choose relevant images, graphics or photos that enhance your message and that are directly related to your client’s product.  If you don’t have photos from the client, consider buying an affordable license to a stock photo service.

A strong image next to a strong message is your best bet but it’s not always necessary to use photos or images in your banner ads.  Simple text banner ads will great copy and nice typography can be just as effective.

NEVER EVER GRAB AN IMAGE FROM A GOOGLE SEARCH!!  If you or the client didn’t take the photo, consider it just as off-limits as including a licensed song in a radio ad.  The same copyright laws apply. 

Save Banner Ads Properly: This is a big one.  Optimize your images for the smallest file size possible. The target file size should be around 30kb or LESS, depending on the size of the ad.  Keep in mind that animated GIFs can get very large depending on the animation involved.  Sometimes banners are simply too large to be served over mobile devices, so always check the file size after saving.

Make sure to save your banners in a format that works across the web. Common file types for banner ads include PNG and JPG for static displays and GIF for animation. Newer file types like SVG and WebP are becoming more widely accepted as well with much smaller file sizes.

Link Appropriately: If your client has a well-thought-out call to action on their banner ad, ensure that it links directly to that action item and not just their homepage.  The user should not have to find the action item themselves from the client homepage.  Users will thank you for this and the client will more likely get the conversion they are looking for.

Conclusion: The banner ad is not dead yet and it’s probably not going away anytime.e soon.  But, just like their radio ad counterparts, we need to do all we can do to ensure their ads are most effective for the client.  Using these banner ad tips in an effective way will help your clients get the results they came to you for.  Good luck!

I hope these tips help you.  If they do, we’d love to hear about it.

Jim Sherwood serves as chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects.