Banner Ad Blueprint: 5 Components of an Effective Banner Ad

By Jenny DeGraff | Nov 12, 2013
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Banner-Ad-BlueprintBanner ads are one of the most prolific forms of online advertising used in today’s marketing world. Despite their bad reputation for low click-through rates, banner ads have proved to be an affordable, measurable, and effective medium. Companies use them in one form or another to create brand awareness, increase engagement, and drive lead generation.

But What Makes a Banner Ad Effective?

There are no concrete rules about what makes one banner ad better than another, and no guarantee that your ad will break through the banner blindness that plagues today’s internet users. But as in all advertising, an effective banner ad is the product of a number of different factors, and there are a few qualities that generally make for more effective banner ads in many situations.

If you are creating a banner ad campaign, begin developing your ad with special consideration for these 5 components:

1. Logo

Your company’s color scheme and branding guidelines should be referenced and apparent in the design of your banner ad. Your ad should link to a landing page about the offer in your ad, so make sure it looks consistent with your company’s branding and the subsequent landing page to avoid any confusion or anxiety. Remember your logo must be included to build brand awareness and recognition. Make sure that it’s visually dominant, but not as dominant as the value proposition and the call to action. Also consider including your tagline or other memorable/recognizable branding elements.

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Without a logo, there is no way of knowing who the advertiser is and if they are trustworthy.

2. Value Proposition

The value proposition should be the most prominent element on the ad. It should take up the most space and be the first thing that attracts your viewers’ eyes. Use this space to showcase the benefits of your service/product, grab the visitor’s attention and instill a sense of urgency and desire. This is a great place to showcase special offers and prices, i.e. ‘High Quality,’ ‘50% off,’ ‘Limited time offer,’ or ‘Free!’.

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The value proposition is big, bold, and commands attention above all else.

3. Body Copy

The goal of display advertising is to get the visitor’s attention, pique their interest, and earn their click. You don’t need to, and should NOT, put every bit of information on the ad itself – you’re not trying to make the sale, that’s the job of the landing page. Include just enough information to get the readers interested and leave them wanting more. It may take some creative, original verbiage to convey all you need to in about 10 words. But remember a simple banner will have higher click through rates, so if your ad takes more than two seconds to read, there is too much text.

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This ad provides a clear, concise description of the product, giving just enough information to want to learn more.

Remember no one will read an ad with a novel in it (unless you’re BMW creating the world’s longest banner).

4. Image

Choose relevant images, graphics, or photos that enhance your message and that are directly related to your product. Avoid abstract concepts that require too much time and thought to decipher. Images should help bring a sense of visual urgency to the text by using contrasting, bold colors or a sense of clarity to a non-tangible service. However, it is not always necessary to use photos or images in your ads. Text ads with nice typography on a contrasting background can be just as effective. Use imagery well, but only when you need it.

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There is no image, but the ad is simple and compelling.

5. Call to Action (CTA)

One of the most critical elements of a banner ad is the call to action or ‘the ask’, and not including a CTA will assuredly decrease click through rate. The call to action is text or a button that asks the user to ‘interact’ with the banner ad, whether it’s implied or direct. This could be as simple as adding a ‘Get the Guide,’ ‘Test it Out,’ ‘Watch Now,’ or ‘Join the Fun’ button encouraging the reader to click through to your landing page. Be as clear and specific as possible with your CTA text. You must ensure visitors know what they’re getting in exchange for the click.

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With no call to action, you don’t know what you’re really supposed to do here.

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Great example of a clear, actionable CTA.

Wrap it Up Already

Banners get a bad rap, but they can be very effective as part of an overall paid media campaign, especially when targeting the right people with a relevant message. Get started with a creative, finely-crafted value proposition, throw in a compelling call to action and some descriptive design elements, and you’ve got the makings of a powerful and memorable communication. Just keep it simple visually and content-wise and test your ads to see what works best for you.

Are you experienced in banner ad creation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on crafting an effective ad. Give me a shout on Twitter @JennyDeGraff.

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