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?
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?
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 moat.com.
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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.