Banner ads are dead! We’ve all heard it. In fact, I hear it almost every time a marketing specialist talked about digital advertising.
But what if I told you that banner ads are not at all dead? Think about this.
Every Facebook Ad is a banner ad, every Instagram Sponsored Post is a banner ad, every Promoted Pin is a banner ad, every Facebook retargeting ad is a banner ad. They are all banner ads—the difference is the platform and the audience they target.
The banner ad isn’t dead, it’s just reinventing itself.
However, despite this fact, people still believe banner ads are dead, arguing that they are ineffective, intrusive and disruptive to the user experience.
But is that really the problem? Or, as Chas Edwards said in an interview, is the problem much more basic?
We’ve been putting the wrong stuff in the rectangles and blaming the rectangle. —Chas Edwards
If the problem is really that we’re putting the wrong stuff in our banner ads, that begs the question, what is this “wrong stuff” we shouldn’t use in our banner ads? Or, more exactly, what are the successful elements we should use to design awesome banner ads.
What’s Really Wrong With Banner Ads?
According to Market Wired, 54% of users don’t click banner ads because they don’t trust them. As a result, marketers are missing out on more than half of their potential visitors or even purchases because users don’t trust what they see—the banner ads.
Yes, we can blame other factors like banner blindness, ad fatigue and even ad blockers but if we aren’t designing a banner ad that tells the right message, to the right person at the right time, can we really expect our potential customers to trust our ad?
At Bannersnack, we are constantly analyzing the market and see what kind of banner ads convert better. Some of our users like designing static banner ads and some of them use animated banner ads to create a dynamic campaign and put it front of the user.
After looking at the results from all of these different ads, we’ve learned a lot about banner ads, how they develop and how to design them to get noticed easier by many potential customers.
Of course, the specific predictors of success depend on the market, budget, target, etc of your campaign, but no matter who or what you’re trying to sell, successful banner ads work because they 1) deliver targeted messages and 2) contain high quality visuals.
These are the 2 main characteristics that you should look at when you want to design a banner ad for your next campaign. Let’s take a look at how to optimize banner ad performance in each of these areas.
1. Targeted Message
To create successful banner ads, you need to understand your target audience and craft a message that is specific to their needs and interests.
This is possibly the most important part of banner ad design. The better your understand your audience, the more you will know about what kind of banner ad to design, what kind of size to use and how to set up your campaign.
Even if this element is not about design, it will help you create a better perspective of your entire campaign. So, before you start designing and creating your ads, take the time and think about your audience.
Ask yourself questions about your audience like:
- What interests them?
- What are they scared of?
- What would attract their attention?
The answers will help you understand your audience better, allowing you to create a better value proposition and call-to-action (CTA).
The value proposition of your banner ad should explain simply and clear how your brand (product/service) addresses customers needs, solves problems and improves your target audience’s quality of life.
To put it simply, your value proposition needs to answer the question, How does your business solve their problem?
A good value proposition has 3 primary components:
- It’s relevant to your customers
- It explains the benefits you are delivering
- It’s clear and easy to understand
One easy way to get at the heart of your value proposition is to try Steve Blank’s XYZ tactic. Think about your product or offer and complete the following sentence: “We help X do Y doing Z”.
For more help crafting your value proposition, check out this comprehensive chapter on value propositions from The Banner Design Academy.
Call To Action
A banner ad is a bridge between the product you want to sell and your customer. Your value proposition is the “why” that convinces them to cross that bridge, your call-to-action (CTA) is the street sign that helps them get there.
So, once you know why people will want to act, you need to ask yourself, what do I want users to do?
Once you know what you want people to do, consider the 3 following elements that define a great CTA:
- Text. Use a clear and easy to understand actionable language
- Design. Color, Shape, Sizes and fonts. These elements will help the CTA stand out but also be in sync with your banner ad
- Placement. Give enough space to your CTA button and make sure there aren’t other distracting elements around it.
Now, arguably, knowing your audience, creating a powerful value proposition and writing a compelling CTA are the most important parts of successful banner ad design. In fact, many marketers believe that if they have a clear a simple call-to-action, a good price and well optimized campaign, people will click enthusiastically on their banner ads.
But the thing is, one of the reasons people don’t trust banner ads is because they are poorly designed.
These days, people have a well-developed sense for web design. If your design doesn’t pass their sniff test, their trust level will be so low that they won’t even see it. But, when a well-designed banner ad shows up at the right time in the right place for the right person, people will notice and they will click.
2. High Quality Visuals
Did you know that the CRAP Principles can be used in designing a banner ad? Contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity are the basis for any good design, especially in a banner ad.
Think about the last time when you saw a well designed banner ad that stood out and made you click on it because it was something you liked or just responded to your needs. How was the color contrast? What about the alignment of the visual elements? What about branding?
Maybe you didn’t think about how the ad was designed, but that’s kind of the point. Good design is simple, smart and effortless, you don’t need to take a lot of time and analyze it.
So, what are the qualities a banner should have in order to get noticed and get into the good banner ad category?
Odds are, if you are running banner ads, you’re probably running ads in front of a new audience that don’t know a thing about your brand and your product. People are instinctively wary of new things, so you’ve got a bit of an uphill battle in front of you.
To deal with this problem, try using simple elements from your brand, like the logo of your brand, your company name or even your website domain in your banner ads. Not only will this help make your ad seem more credible, it will also help you maintain the brand consistency across different advertising platforms.
Image quality is fairly simple: a blurry image will make your banner ad look amateurish. It won’t give any confidence and the users just won’t click on it. So, try to avoid this and use professional, clear and high quality images in your banner ads.
Did you know that 93% of consumers make shopping decisions based on visual appearance? And color helps increase recognition, which is directly linked to consumer confidence.
Choosing the right colors to use in a banner ad comes down to understanding the behavior of your audience, the brand identity and the product design.
There is no secret recipe for successfully using colors for a conversion message, image, button or headline. So it’s usually best to come up with few ideas and then test, analyze, optimize and adapt your ads to find out what works best for your audience.
There is one simple rule to go with when you choose a font: pick something that’s easy to read online. If the font you choose is easy to read, its chances of being read are higher.
How do you test it? Use this font while you write the value proposition on your banner ad, stand up from your desk, move back a couple of steps and ask a colleague to come next to you and read the text. If your colleague can read it, then the font passed the test and it’s ready to go.
Also, don’t forget to use a color that sets the text apart from the rest.
So, are banner ads dead? Not by a long a shot! However, if you don’t have the right targeted messaging and design elements in your banner ads, they might as well be dead.
Fortunately, by applying the principles outlined in this article to your ads, you’ll be well on your way to designing highly successful banner ads.
Do you think banner ads are still a worthwhile investment? How do you make the most out of your banner ads?