A mainstay of online marketing is the banner ad, which can appear on social media networks such as Facebook, search engines such as Google, or on various other web pages. Some organizations are shying away from banner ads because the number of clicks that they generate has been continuously decreasing. Organizations also need to take into account the fact that simply seeing a brand through a banner ad often creates a subliminal preference for those products. In fact, this is the very principle upon which newspaper and television ads—not to mention billboards—are based. Thus, even if ads do not translate to clicks, they are still an effective means of building brand awareness and winning over new audiences.
Not all banner ads are created equal. Poor banner ads can leave customers wondering exactly what they are trying to sell, while offensive ones can even alienate some people. Following are some important tips to keep in mind for making the most effective banner ad possible:
Focus on a single message
When an organization tries to get too much information across in a single banner ad, it can end up overwhelming and confusing an audience. Since people will only spend a split second focusing on a banner ad, it is critical to choose one message and deliver it succinctly. While organizations sometimes try to use scrolling banners or GIFs to reinforce their message, this is not always an ideal solution considering that many consumers will pay little attention to the ad. Organizations should only think about adding features or functions if a banner ad works as a static ad first. After all, the message is more important than any moving elements, which often distract viewers from the point of the ad.
Include a call to action
While research shows that most ads do not get clicked nowadays, it is still important to include a call to action since that is the ultimate goal. Every single banner ad should let individuals know what to do next if they are interested in the product or service. The call to action can be as simple as clicking for a discount, inviting individuals to see more on a webpage, or pushing an email list. A call to action is never as obvious as an organization thinks it is. The call to action should never be implied. A direct command is critical for engaging consumers.
Think about fonts
Banner ads are usually wedged into a very small space, which makes font choice critical. A lot of things on a web page will compete for the attention of consumers, and a strong typeface that is easy to read will pull people’s attention to the message at hand. In general, organizations should avoid using more than two typefaces since the space can start to look cluttered. A big, bold headline in an unusual font will grab people’s attention. The rest of the text should be in a simple sans serif that is very easy to read. Many organizations use a different size for the main text and the call to action, which can be a good strategy for directing attention.
Consider brand consistency
A banner ad should be an extension of the other campaigns operated by an organization. In other words, the banner ad should be easily associated with the brand. Visual consistency reinforces a brand and adds to the subliminal preference for it. For many organizations, this means thinking about banner ads from the beginning of a conversation on marketing strategy, just as logos have become a requisite part of planning. Consistency means using the same font, images, and colors across the entire campaign. Organizations can experiment with interesting crops of logos and images that appear elsewhere in order to catch people’s attention.
Keep in-ad animation simple
According to research, moving ads perform better than static ads. That being said, organizations still need to keep animation simple so as not to distract from the overall message of the ad. Simple animations, such as a wink or a running character, will help draw people’s attention to an ad. Overly complicated animation will keep people focused on the animation rather than on what the ad is actually trying to sell. Organizations should also try to steer clear of bright, flashing ads that were popular years ago. Such ads tend to annoy people and run the risk of alienating potential customers. A simple surprise that causes people to look twice is ideal.
Use appropriate imagery
Organizations sometimes rely on imagery to capture people’s attention. This strategy can work, but only if the image is directly related to the product or service for sale. Unrelated images will only confuse viewers and cause them to move on rather quickly. Images do not need to be taken by a pricey photographer. Purchasing a license for a stock photo can be an easier solution, as can using original graphics or drawings. Organizations should avoid getting stuck in the mindset that every banner ad must contain imagery. Excluding an image is a perfectly fine option if nothing fits with the message. Ads with great copy and typography perform just as well as those with pictures.