5 Tips for Creating Effective Banner Ads

November 22, 2022
By   Alexandra Few
Category   Search

Banner ads can be an effective, inexpensive tool to help your business or franchise generate awareness and engagement. However, to achieve this, banner ads must be effective. Find out some tips on how you can optimize your banner ads.

Whether you are a small business or a large franchise organization, finding ways to attract an audience to your website or landing page can be an important way to acquire potential new customers, promote your products or services, or generate overall interest. Many businesses, franchises, and organizations turn to digital ads to act as vehicles to attract more eyes to their website and subsequently their company. To be effective, they must grab the attention of the potential customer.

A popular type of digital ad is banner ads, as they can be displayed on a variety of web pages and potentially generate clicks. However, to be successful, there are some factors to consider.

What Is a Banner Ad?

A banner ad falls under the category of a display ad, which are the ads you may see on web pages. They can be a variety of sizes, usually rectangular in shape, and are typically placed on the borders of web pages that are considered high-traffic. This can provide the ad with the best chance to receive more views and create greater leads and conversions. A banner ad will link to a landing page, which can help further promote the certain service, promotion, product, or main website the ad focuses on.

Whether static or animated, a banner ad typically has the goal of generating brand awareness, hence why they are placed in highly visible areas of a webpage and are eye-catching (when created successfully).

Banner ads can vary in cost, and many advertisers will utilize real-time bidding (RTB), which refers to the buying and selling of digital ad inventory. This occurs in real-time and happens through an automated auction, and this is where advertisers will bid on impressions. The highest bid wins the inventory space.

1. Consider banner dimensions

When it comes to the typical content on social media, there are standard dimensions to build your designs around. However, with banner ads, there are a couple more considerations to take into account regarding sizing. In fact, certain banner sizes are more popular than others, which can assist with generating views and potential leads.

Some of the most common, top-performing sizes for banner ads that can lead to greater results include:

  • 728×90 (Leaderboard): Typically displayed horizontally at the very top of a webpage, and can go larger to 970×90.
  • 160×600 (Skyscraper): A tall, thin shape on the left or right side of a webpage and usually read from top to bottom.
  • 300×250 (Mid-page Unit/medium rectangle): Usually visible on the left or right sides of a webpage, typically mid-page.
  • 336×280 (Large rectangle): Larger than the medium rectangle ad and takes up greater ad inventory.
  • 300×600 (Half page): While it does not actually take up half the page, it does cover a good amount of space, which can allow for more copy or visual elements.
  • 320×100 (Large mobile banner): 320×50 and 300×250 are other common mobile ad dimensions, but a large mobile banner can allow for greater space taken up on a mobile device.

When you are building out your banner ads, be sure to consider both desktop and mobile dimensions. While desktop takes up more market share in Canada (54.53%), mobile market share is close behind at 45.47%. To be most effective, ensure that your banner ads can be accessible on either device.

2. Include a clear call-to-action

A call-to-action, also known by its acronym CTA, is the motivating factor within a piece of digital content. This could be in ad copy, a landing page, or a blog post, to name a few examples. In this case, a CTA on a banner ad typically exists on a button or in the text within the design.

Some common copy examples include sign up, learn more, download now, try for free, register today, etc. Of course, the copy will vary depending on the ad, but the idea is to give the individual viewing the ad the push they need to click on it.

The CTA on a banner ad should be extremely visible and the main focus. After all, you are ideally looking for conversions, so you want to inform the individual viewing the ad what they can get out of clicking. Essentially, you want to help guide them to your desired outcome, which is to get them on the specific landing page, main website, or piece of content that you linked your ad to.

The CTA should pop out at the individual, and be placed in an area of the ad that follows the flow. For example, someone who reads the copy on the ad should end on the CTA if they are reading left to right. The copy of a CTA on a banner ad should typically align with the webpage it is linked to. If using a ‘learn more’ CTA, be sure the individual can learn more when they are directed.

3. Check the file size and format

You could design a stunning banner ad with stellar copy, but it means nothing if the ad cannot quickly load on a webpage. According to Google ads, banner ads should be 150KB or less in file size. Otherwise, you could run into speed problems, as the large banner ad will cause the web page to load slowly, leading to higher webpage abandonment rates. And since banner ads can often be more efficient when they run on popular, high-traffic websites, the website itself needs to have a quick page loading speed in order for it to be popular in the first place. The ads can’t slow it down or else it is a lose-lose situation.

There can be several factors that go into a high KB banner ad, such as its height and pixels. For example, while one banner ad may have smaller pixels compared to one with larger pixels, it could still have a higher KB because of the digital assets that went into the banner ad’s design. The goal here is to determine a simple design that will get your message across and that is not overly designed, which can lead to higher KB.

How you save your banner ad can play a role in its file size. If you find your banner ad’s file size is pushing it, you may want to try saving it as a JPEG instead of a PNG.

4. Ensure a hierarchy

When an individual is scrolling through a webpage, whether on their desktop or their mobile device, it is fair to say that their attention may be a bit all over the place. For a banner ad to be effective, the individual viewing it needs to be able to read it, and for them to do so with ease, maintaining a visual hierarchy is essential.

Typical banner ads should have the following elements on it:

  1. Your logo should appear on the ad, especially since a goal can be to increase brand awareness. However, be aware of the size of the logo, as it shouldn’t dominate over the copy and CTA.
  2. The copy on the ad itself (the value proposition) should take up the most amount of space since this is the main purpose of the ad.
  3. Main image
  4. The CTA button

The logo can appear closer to the edges of the banners, with the value proposition and CTA button as the “main event” of the ad, as this can help grab the individual’s attention. You want the ad’s image to be eye-catching and relevant, while the most important copy should be large and bold, as this is typically one of the things someone will read first when coming across your banner ad. For example, if you are offering a discount, ensure that this is highly visible. Since most individuals read left to right, ensure that there is a natural flow to the copy. Meanwhile, the CTA should appear in a contrasting colour to the ad to ensure it is noticeable yet consistent with the ad.

5. Try animation and static banner ads

For messages that are simple and straight to the point, a static banner ad can be an effective choice. Meanwhile, an ad that includes animation can be more visually appealing, as it can attract more eyes on it. Most animated banner ads are called HTML5 banner ads and require some back-end work to control the animations. GIFS can also be used, which are a bit less seamless when compared to a video, for example, but can still attract attention.

A static banner ad can be less expensive to create and can easily fit on desktop and mobile web pages. An animated banner ad can be more engaging and likely stop the individual from scrolling to watch. However, it can cost more to create, and there is a possibility that someone may not catch the start of the ad, meaning they could miss important details. If choosing an animated banner ad, it is important that the element do not overpower the ad and cause any distractions. Try A/B testing to see if a static or animated banner ad can work better for you.

While banner ads do not typically generate high click-through rates like search or social advertising, they remain a cost-effective way to increase your brand’s visibility and reach, and offer an opportunity for your brand to appear on websites that align with your industry or interests.


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Alexandra Few

Alexandra is a Content Producer at Reshift Media. Her work in our social team includes creating and designing content for social media, as well as researching and developing blog posts, landing pages, and other forms of web content for several brands. She has completed certifications in digital marketing, professional writing, and digital strategy and communications management, and she has published work on topics that range from franchising and social media to music and wellness.

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