Build better banners

What makes a good banner ad? A guide for marketers


How can you assess if your ad is working hard, or hardly working? Is it creative genius or an ill-considered afterthought? We’ve put together this simple set of pointers to help you assess your banner creative.

Keep it simple

This is a medium that rewards simplicity.

Be simple, bold and grab attention. 

That doesn’t mean we can’t tell stories or trigger emotional responses, just that we have to be smart about it.

Consider this complete 6-word story.

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Every unnecessary thing has been stripped away. And it has impact for exactly that reason.

A great banner ad is the same as a good joke.

It has to be easily understood, has a setup and a payoff, and it’s all over very quickly. 

Do it with an Aubergine, do it with a smile, but however you do it, make it fast, distinctive and memorable. 

Keep your branding prominent

Your ad may be on-screen for 1 second, or 30, but it’s never the focus. 99.9% of people won’t actively watch it. So, it needs to make sense, even if they only glance at it for a second.

For example, what’s this an ad for?

IBM banner ad without obvious branding

To find out, the viewer has to wait 30 seconds for the ‘reveal’ and that’s just not how people behave online.

By contrast, what’s this an ad for?

Branded ads are more visible and memorable

Keeping branding or core messaging available throughout the ad ensures that you maximise memorability. It doesn’t have to be that unsubtle, interwoven product shots, hashtags and branding also work, just as long as it’s not the TV ad plunked down gracelessly in a browser.

Keep looking out for great ads

Banners are the ultimate ephemeral ad format. Agencies rarely put them in case studies because they aren’t the big, sexy Tada! moment. So, they vanish. This makes it hard to compare your creative against the best. And yet, they are often the most visible part of digital campaigns, running to many millions of ad impressions. Keep an eye out for what works and note good vs. bad creative when you see it.

You can find archives of bigger brands’ banners at

Keep track of brand effects

If clicks are no longer the most important measure of effectiveness, then what is? Most of the larger platforms offer brand uplift surveys, often for free (dependant on media spend). It gives you a clear, costable measurement of £ per % awareness increase. Some platforms also track favourability and consideration among their metrics.

Here are a couple of examples:

Facebook brand uplift study survey

Vice brand uplift study












And keep integrating

The biggest brand effects occur when people encounter you in several places (as this IAB study shows). But it’s not just a multichannel effect. Integrate campaigns within digital channels too.

“Align your creative, analytics, and media teams as early as possible,” advises Google to create journeys that hit your target audience with the message that’s right for them in that moment. It may mean creating 20 variants of your ads to use in different contexts, or it may mean a retargeting journey that builds on initial interest with additional messages to overcome objections and create urgency. Whatever ‘integrated’ means in the context of your campaign, make sure that your campaign is designed to hit the right people, with the right message, at the right time.




To see some of our work, click here for case studies on how we’ve helped Pets at home, Silentnight, Marriott, Brother, BUPA, Wagamama and many more. 

Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more, give us a call on 0161 831 0831 and ask for Nicola or get in touch at

Contact Us:
To find out how Dinosaur could help you get great results, phone Nicola on
0161 831 0831
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Contact Us:
To find out how Dinosaur could help you get great results, phone Nicola on
0161 831 0831
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