Since the first display ad online in 1990, display advertising has evolved. It’s no longer limited to static image ads as we know it.

With the competition getting fiercer as the day goes by, optimizing your display ads (i.e., banner ads) shouldn’t be an afterthought.

You can’t conform to the traditional ways of advertising and expect to get targeted clicks, acquire leads, and grow your customer base.

And contrary to what you may have read on different blogs, about how that “display ad is dead,” you can either accept the fate or stand out.

In this in-depth article, I want to show you the 9 display advertising best practices that will help you generate more customers quickly.

But first, a quick definition.

What is display advertising?

According to MarketingLand,

Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message.”

An example of a display ad is banner or image ads that appear on websites. They’re mostly placed at the sidebar, top, footer, and inside the content.

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Display advertising is truly a simple and easy method of creating awareness about your brand, or a particular product.

However, for these image ads to truly get you the results that you want, make sure that these 9 follow these simple practices:

 

1. Define the purpose of your image ads

A lot of banner ads are created and published every day. But as you already know, click-through rate across search, mobile, and social is low (source).

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One of the reasons why the CTR is usually poor is because of lack of purpose. In other words, the image ads don’t communicate a clear purpose to the viewers.

If you’re not able to craft a way of communicating “purpose” with your image ad, viewers will not click on it.

Remember that displaying ads on your website is one thing. Getting people to click on it is another.

If your ad confuses people, you’ve not really communicated.

So what do you do from here?

First, know your target audience and device a strategy for designing banner ads that appeals to them. Ask yourself, what do you intend to achieve with your advert?

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What actually are you trying to get at?

  • Feedback as a response from them,
  • Or, you want to create awareness for your brand?

Ensure it’s clearly spelt out in your banner ad. Hey, notice how this banner ad communicate a clear purpose, “5 Steps To Start A Blog.”

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Once you’ve defined a clear purpose in your ad, ask yourself, “will my banner ad solve their problems if they click on it?”

Truth is, if the ad is just there to entertain people, and not lead them to a page where their problems will be solved, your conversions will be low.

Quick note: Make sure that when your audience clicks on your banner ad, that they’re redirected to a relevant and helpful page.

 

2. Design image ads to match your overall site theme

Have you ever called a male friend on phone and a female voice was heard from the other end? How do you feel?

Confused, right?

Same applies here. When you display ad on another website, it should match the overall theme or design of the landing page. This is known as the “congruence rule” in Google AdWords advertising.

Here’s a perfect example:

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Remember that marketers who complain that display ad doesn’t work anymore have probably forgotten this rule.

For example, if a banner ad says “Get free website audit,” but on the landing page, there’s a prompt for viewers to read a blog post on “link building,” obvious, you know that this is a mismatch.

Your banner ad MUST be somewhat similar (if not entirely) to your landing page. For example, the color, logo, and fonts should represent your brand.

 

3. Test your image ad call-to-action

Your purpose for using ad banners is to Call your audience To Action, right?

Absolutely.

To get more people clicking on your banner ad, be relevant. Be quick. In a nutshell, don’t speak Latin to a French man.

There are various ways to Call To Action (e.g. “download now”, “join us”, “click here”, “buy now”, “find more”, “shop now”).

The harsh truth is, you may not predict the exact Call To Action that will attract more response from your audience.

To know which one to use, split testing is important here.

For instance, you can split test these two phrases “Add to cart” and “Shop now,” if you’re an ecommerce store owner – to know which one converts better.

Changing the color of your CTA button can improve or reduce your conversion rate. Could you imaging that a little adjustment in your design could have such a wide difference in response from the audience?

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There are several tools that you can use to split test your landing page elements. In all, make sure to choose the call-to-action that your audience prefers, not the one you love.

 

4. Use the right image ads to persuade customers

Using the right image in your banner ad will always convert better.

You can use the right image to express your deepest intents. And your target audience will notice it. Trust me.

When designing your banner, don’t make it all text. Sure, you can use videos (since videos usually contain rich and relevant images).

To get the best results with display advertising, you need to approach it like you would content marketing. The goal is to create something useful – that will pull people in, and not compel them against their will.

In fact, 87% of marketers use videos for content marketing.

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There is no set rule for designing banner ads. Yes, you can/should use the right image and video on your ad banners to persuade your customers.

For instance, if you are targeting an audience that needs “productivity,” using an image of a clock or timer might be relevant.

But again, it all depends on what suits your audience.

 

5. Integrate humor into your banner designs to excite people

Humor has been a strong tool used in advertising for ages.

Do you know that your target audience maybe stressed up and confused right now?

Sure.

Through humor, you can calm their nerves. Neil Patel uses humor in his banner ads. In a recent ad, he wear pyjamas and a funny face.

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Have you ever seen a picture that drew your attention or made you laugh?

It wasn’t an accident. If for anything, it was actually a deliberate attempt to make you laugh. And consequently, persuade you into action.

The use of cartoons and funny pictures could draw attention of your target audience faster.

For instance, just take a look at picture below. You can’t get your eyes off the ad. It’s just awesome.

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6. Target people’s pain points in your display ad

What’s your customer’s problem or pain point?

Content marketing is all about solving problem. What kind of problem are you trying to solve? Who are you audience – and what causes them sleepless nights?

You might annoy your ideal customers, who are in dire need of a solution, if all your banner ad does is push your product down their throat.

Come on, stop trying to sell your product at all cost. Focus on creating awareness, answering questions, and creating high-value content. Sales will naturally role in.

Imagine you’re creating a problem that does not exist, instead of finding existing problems through market research.

As an example, if your a social media expert, before you create your banner ad – take a look at people’s pain points as regards social marketing.

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Armed with these pain points, pick on and create your banner ad around it. That’s the proven approach for getting dramatic results through display advertising.

 

7. Use company logo in your banner to drive your brand

Your logo is your identity.

It’s an integral part of your brand. For example, Michael Hyatt uses his Platform University to design his banner ads.

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Your logo should be included in your banner ads. Wherever your logo is seen, it identifies and boost the image of your company and links to your product.

No matter what you plan to promote via display advertising, don’t leave your logo behind.

 

8. Integrate a sense of urgency to nudge people into action

The human brain is wired to respond quickly to urgent needs. So, if your banner ad doesn’t communicate a sense of urgency, then, it should be in archives till i’m ready for it.

Seriously.

The image ads should push people to click now, not later. Use words like “today”, “now”, “instant”, “ends today”, etc., to show urgency. John Lee Dumas’ banner ad for the “Freedom Journal” is a perfect example.

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With these words, you don’t wait for them to make decision, you persuade them.

You don’t want people to archive your ad in their minds, do you? Why not save time and compel people to take action right now.

 

9. Decide on the right image ads sizes based on positioning

Certain Ad banner sizes can convert better than others, especially animated banners with good sizes.

Find different image sizes and split-test to know the one that suits your audience.

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Here are the most common image ad sizes that you can use:

350 x 300 pixel, 600 x 160 pixels, 300 x 250 pixels, 300 x 600 pixels, 728 x 90 pixels, 970 x 90 pixels, 970 x 250 pixels, 250 x 250 pixels etc.

 

Conclusion

Have you ever told yourself that display advertising is not right for you or your business? You might want to give it a shot.

A lot of brands and smart marketers are staying off the radar, and generating hundreds of qualified leads every other week – through display ads placement.

All in all, stay consistent. Exciting results don’t happen overnight. Be patient, and learn along the way.

About Michael Chibuzor

Michael Chibuzor is the founder of Content Marketing Up. He's a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media power user. He's passionate about changing his world with words. And every content he creates has that tone that will impact your customers. Follow him on Twitter @mikecoder

To learn more, visit http://contentmarketingup.com/

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