Top tips for designing Banners for effective advertising

You come across banners every day, you probably even curse them sometimes, they annoy you, they get in the way of smooth browsing, they distract you from what really interests you, and they are ALWAYS there. But it’s very likely that what you hate today will turn out to be your greatest ally tomorrow, and together you will achieve the goals you set for yourselves. However, before you get there, you’ve got quite a road to travel together. If you follow these lines, by the end you will be one step closer to loving them, and even if you don’t become a banner lover, you will understand their purpose and be more welcoming towards them.
So, let’s get down to business.

What exactly is a banner?

A banner is a term that refers to a type of advertising space that is inserted in different websites. It is usually an audiovisual element made up of images, animations, videos, etc. A few – perhaps the most annoying ones – even include an audio clip. They are interactive elements that the user can click on, and which will take them to a website or landing page for the service they are advertising. It’s very important that they are linked to an appropriate landing page that is designed to retain those volatile clicks. Here’s an article to read if you want to know more about what an effective landing page should include.

Banners can be located on your own website to direct users to a specific section and/or inform them of an offer/service, or they can be placed on a different website. The objective of these elements is to encourage someone browsing another website to visit yours because they are interested in the service or product that they have seen in the banner.

The first banner in history

The first documented banner was created in 1994 by the company AT&T who put it online on the website with the aim of promoting museums and artworks.

The banner is an indispensable element if you are thinking of investing in online advertising. You may ask yourself why a website other than your own would want to allow you to promote yourself there. The answer is simple – they do it for money. Hosting your banner will bring economic benefits, because every time someone clicks on it, the host will receive an agreed amount of money, thus monetizing their space. That‘s the reason why many websites, blogs, repositories, etc. are packed with elements like these because they help to finance the activity of these websites.

However, it’s also worth asking the opposite question – why would you want to take your banner to another website? The answer is obvious enough: because a particular site may be visited by hundreds of potential customers who do not know your brand or service and who would otherwise remain unaware of you. For this reason, it is vital to know your potential customer or ‘buyer persona’ and to find out where they usually surf, what interests they have, and how to find them.

In reference to the type of agreement between the company that wants to advertise, or the owner of the banner, and the website that hosts the banner, two main groups can be established. In the first minority group, the two parties reach a commercial agreement. The host website hires out a specific space to the advertiser and in this agreement, the cost, duration, etc. are established. In the second, larger, group, the advertiser establishes its budget, audience interests, and the type of website it wants to advertise on, and a third company manages the placement of the ads according to this budget and based on a bidding system. The host website, for its part, cedes its advertising space to the third party to manage it. In this second group, Google is the main company that manages the advertisements, and the service is called display advertising.

What types of banners are there?

Different types and sizes of banners

This is a complicated question because, given the frenetic pace of developments on the Internet, the definition of existing types of banners can prove tricky, so we’re adopting the saying “not everything that matters is here, but everything that’s here matters”. At Freepik we offer you hundreds of banner templates in different sizes that you can customize and adapt to your needs.

A banner is any image format that serves the purposes explained above, however, the original banner was designed at 468×60 pixels.

With the evolution of the Internet and the appearance of increasingly large screens and higher bandwidths, banners have evolved and now host more attractive compositions.

Many of these formats have inherited their names from the advertising formats of physical newspapers and magazines, such as the page stealer (300×250 pixels), the leaderboard (728×90 pixels), the skyscraper (a vertical design, usually in 160×600 format), or the billboard (large size, 970×250 pixels).

In addition to these “classic” banners, there are many other special formats such as interstitial banners, which are displayed full screen as pop-ups. Users must close them to continue viewing the rest of the content of the website they are visiting. This banner format is considered very invasive by users and Google has been penalizing them since 2017, so we don’t recommend using them.

Rich Media Banners use rich formats that work with new technologies to include dynamic content. They allow the user to interact with videos, animations, forms, etc.

How to create an attractive banner?

Tips to make a good Banner

An attractive banner must transmit professionalism, but it must also attract attention. As these are small formats which, best case, will only attract the user’s attention for a few seconds, it’s not advisable to overload them too much.

  • You must have a clear, specific objective.
  • Focus them on the right audience, after identifying their specific characteristics such as gender, age, tastes, interests, browsing behavior, etc.
  • Design a clear and direct message with a call to action: Click here, see now, download now…
  • Use A/B testing by designing several tests for the same banner, simply by changing texts, images, and order of the elements.
  • Ensure harmonious, contrasted, and creative design, whether static or dynamic, where interactivity and the possibility for the user to have fun are more and more important.

Banners have to be updated and must respond to promotional and temporary needs. It doesn’t make much sense to have a stable banner throughout the year, but rather it’s better to link it to the current events of the moment.

For example, at this time of the year, websites are full of stars and stripes flags because of the approaching 4th of July holiday in the United States. At Freepik we can help you with many resources to celebrate the American Independence Day.

With the arrival of the 4th of July, the banners are filled with American flags.

YouTube banners

As we said before, your banners should be where your audience is, and video is here to stay – YouTube is the biggest video platform in the world, and the most visited. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to try to have a presence there. Many companies look after their Instagram and Facebook social profiles but ignore the potential that YouTube offers.

If you are considering a change in your YouTube strategy, we can help you to make your profile look fantastic. At Freepik, we offer specific templates for different YouTube banners that you can use to find inspiration or adapt to your brand. If you prefer, you can edit them online in our powerful Wepik tool.

The vital thing is to include the important information that will be displayed on all devices, and avoid cutting text, images, etc. However, you should also avoid spaces outside the exclusive areas viewed on mobile devices. A common mistake when designing your channel’s banner is to focus on that small rectangle in the middle of the canvas that will be seen on all devices and ignore everything else. While it is true that most visits are from mobile devices, YouTube is increasingly viewed on higher resolution screens, and even on smart TVs, so you should take the opportunity to make your channel look fantastic on all devices.

Other recommendations include:

  • Respect the gray rectangle where YouTube will place the logo and the brand’s social accounts. Avoid placing important elements in that box so that they are not stepped on by this YouTube functionality.
  • Use only high-quality images. Try to adapt to the resolutions suggested by YouTube and not only to the proportions, in order to prevent the image from losing quality when adapted to different devices.
  • Go for minimalist, orderly, and chromatically harmonious designs, since on many occasions you will only see a strip a few centimeters wide. Make sure that the presence of the logo stands out.
  • Bear in mind that on the YouTube channel, the banner will coexist with the profile image of the channel, so you’ll need to make sure that both elements work together as well as separately.

How big is a YouTube banner?

Different sizes for Youtube banners

The social network itself suggests 2560×1440 pixels as the ideal size for the YouTube header banner. But other considerations must also be taken into account, such as the minimum dimensions, which will be 2048×1152; the minimum safe area for text and logos: 1546×423 pixels; and the maximum file size: 6 MB.

Our final recommendation is to create a template with the different device sizes to see how your design works on each of the platforms and visualize the harmony between them.

As you can see, the world of banners, in particular, is vast, and if we scale up to digital advertising in general, the breadth of this world is magnified to the nth degree. It takes a lot of time and practice to understand all the details related to the different ad sizes and to create high-performing ads. What works for one company may not work for another. Here it is worth taking a trial-and-error approach and it will be very useful to maintain an attitude of patience throughout the process.

We encourage you to try different advertising media, especially the new media that are emerging, as in many cases, during their launch, they tend to show better performance, have lower costs, and give greater impact due to the novelty and users’ curiosity.

At Freepik, we can help you in your inspiration process with hundreds of banner templates designed for every platform. You can edit them and adapt them to your brand or try designing an online banner with our Wepik tool.