As one of the oldest forms of digital advertising, banner ads remain a common way for advertisers to promote their brands, products, and services. According to the latest statistics, the worldwide banner ad spending in 2022 was over $147 billion and is projected to grow beyond $207 billion by 2027.
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In this article, you will gain an understanding of how to build efficient and effective banner ads that is critical, regardless of the size of your business. Learn how to create eye-catching ad banners, ensure they target your audience, and grab the viewer’s attention.
What is Banner Advertising, and Why is it Important?
Banner advertising is a form of digital advertising using predominantly image-based assets to promote products and services. They are the Internet equivalent of physical banners and billboards.
Banner advertising or banner advertisements was the first form of advertising designed explicitly with the Internet in mind. The first banner ad was published in 1994. It took the shape of a long, rectangular image promoting AT&T services hosted on hotwired.com (better known today as wired.com).
This new advertising form revolutionized how companies and businesses communicate with their customers around the globe, showcasing the importance of leveraging the Internet to promote brands.
Differentiating banner ads from other ad formats
While banner advertising is no longer the only way for advertisers to promote their brands and products online, standard banner ads remain a cost-efficient form of display advertising that can boost conversions and revenue. Leveraging banner advertising and building efficient, eye-catching banner ads is crucial to get the best results.
How to Create an Efficient Banner Ad Campaign
Every high-performing banner advertising campaign has well-designed, adequately configured banner ads. Good banners should draw the user’s attention to the landing page and incite them to click. Follow the industry’s best practices to create efficient banner ads.
Find the Right Ad Spaces
Advertisers must ensure they have suitable ad spaces to place their ad creatives before building them. In the past, advertisers had to negotiate with publishers for each website or digital property separately, often resulting in lengthy negotiations delaying revenue streams.
Today, the best solution to find suitable ad spaces is to join an ad network and use the features of an ad server. These advertising technology solutions serve as automated intermediaries between publishers and advertisers, ensuring publishers get the highest-quality and most relevant ads and helping advertisers place their ad creatives on the best possible digital properties.
Plan Your Banner Ad Campaign’s Objectives
Before creating image and text assets, plan how your banners will look and how you want them to present your products, services, or brand.
During the planning stage, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is the target audience for this ad campaign?
- What are the banners meant to showcase or promote?
- What assets will I need to promote my brand efficiently?
Each advertiser’s needs are different, meaning the specific answers to these questions will vary depending on your needs, to build brand awareness and ad campaign’s objectives. Once you have a plan for your banner ad campaign, you can move on to creating visuals and assets.
Build the Ad Creative’s Visuals & Eye-Catching Images
The next step is to build the visual assets necessary to develop your banner ads. Banners are a visual medium, making building these assets one of the most critical steps in the whole ad design and creation of banner designs process.
Although the creative process of designing banner ads depends on your objectives and needs, following these best practices is essential to ensure your banner ads are as efficient as possible.
- Include a value proposition in the creative: Regardless of what you want to promote with your ad, ensuring the ad communicates an offer to the viewer as clearly as possible is crucial. For instance, statements such as “limited time offer” or “25% off” should be visible and easy to read.
- Build a call to action (CTA): While CTAs are typically buttons or plain text, they must all invite the user to click with a short, two- or three-word sentence asking the user to complete the desired action. Examples of efficient CTAs include phrases like “Buy now,” “Get started today,” or “Click here.”
- Use the right colors: Color theory is crucial when building visual assets representing your brand, product, or service in a banner ad. Many brands are associated with specific colors; color theory shows each color is associated with particular feelings or emotions the advertiser wants to convey to the viewer. Below are examples of emotions related to commonly utilized brand colors:
- Red: Passion, activity, excitement, boldness, confidence, ambition, power
- Blue: Trust, reliability, strength, dependability
- Green: Nature, healing, growth, safety, balance
- Cyan: Openness, modernity, ambition, spiritedness
- Pink: Sensitivity, femininity, love, nurturing, possibilities
- Orange: Instinct, optimism, freedom, sociability, motivation
- Purple: Creativity, originality, individualism, unconventional
- Gray / Silver: Balance, moderation, technology, authority, refinement
- Select quality image assets: Regardless of the creative content you create for your banner ads, ensuring the image assets you use to build them are of the highest possible quality is critical. If your ad network imposes limitations on file formats, ensure your image assets have as high a resolution as the file size limits allow. Using low-quality assets harms your brand’s image, as it may appear unprofessional or cause viewers to assume the banner ad isn’t functioning correctly.
- Consider using animation or rich media: You can build banner ads using various types and formats that can help you better convey your message. Most ad networks support standard banner ads that can support animated GIF images. While animated GIFs are limited in color depth and quality, they function everywhere and can help your banner stand out. You may also opt for rich media banner ads, allowing you to benefit from video playback, audio content, interactivity, and other more advanced technologies, provided your ad network supports them.
Create the Ad’s Copy Text
While banner ads are predominantly a visual medium, most banner ads feature written copy. Text-based copy is necessary to communicate your offers, calls to action, and value propositions more efficiently, even in image-based ads. Without copy, your banner ads would contain no text and likely confuse viewers, almost guaranteeing they will never click on the most captivating banner ads.
The best practices when writing copy for your banner ads revolve around the same principle: keep the copy short, easy to read, and to the point. Even if you take advantage of rich media and use video or interactive visual elements to convey your offer, the ad’s copy should not force the user to read large quantities of text, even if it is well-written.
Regardless of what your web banner design is intended to convey, ensure your copy adheres to the following recommendations:
- Keep it short. While banner ads do not have a maximum word count or character limits as text ads do, you still have limited space to display text, even when using animated or rich media banners. Avoid overloading the user with text and get to the point of your offer in as few words as possible.
- The spelling and grammar must be perfect. If the average user can spot a typo or a grammatical mistake, they are less likely to click or pay attention to your offer.
- Use the right fonts and colors. Choosing the right fonts or text colors for your banner is only partly about its visual appeal. The right combination can help your text become easier to read and attract the viewer’s eye more efficiently, increasing the chances of clicks and conversions.
- Include statistics. Giving users numbers, percentages, and comparisons can motivate them to click on your banner and complete the conversion process. Statistics also increase the brand’s credibility and improve its image by appearing more professional.
- Use search keywords. Even the copy text in banner ads can be picked up by search engines. Consequently, you can use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and include relevant keywords to ensure users find their way to your ads from a search engine.
- Offer the user a solution. The most successful ads usually convey a relatable message to the user and offer a way to solve their problems. Your banner ad must address their needs and present a product or a service in a way that conveys that your brand can help them satisfy those needs. Including terms such as “you” or “your” is commonly used to address the audience personally and build rapport with your customers.
Use the Correct File Formats and Sizes
Depending on whether your campaign uses traditional banner ads or rich media ads, your assets may include files of many different sizes and formats. Image assets may also be subject to resolution limits, requiring you to ensure your assets fit into one of the pre-approved image sizes or within a range of allowable resolutions.
If you’re using an animated banner or rich media ads, your banner ads may need to follow additional limits and conditions. For example, animated GIF creatives may need to fit within maximum animation length durations and framerates.
The best way to ensure your assets use the correct sizes and formats is to check your ad or Google display network and its guidelines and recommendations. For instance, image ads for Google Ads display ad campaigns must be in JPG, PNG, or GIF format, with a maximum file size of 150 kb. These ads must also belong to one of the allowed ad sizes per display network. Examples include the 200 x 200 small square, 300 x 250 inline rectangle, 160 x 600 wide skyscraper, 468 x 60 banner, or 320 x 50 mobile banner.
Test Your Banners
After deploying your web banners and launching your ad campaign for the first time, you should test and optimize them regularly.
The best testing tool for banner ads is the A/B testing process. Under this testing process, your banner ad design campaign can be divided into two versions: A and B. A is the original version featuring your current banners, whereas B features an updated version showcasing small changes or modifications you intend to test.
With A/B testing, a set percentage of your viewers will see Version B, whereas the others will see Version A. The objective of A/B testing is to compare each version’s differences and determine whether the changes implemented in Version B are more effective.
It is crucial to make only a few changes at a time when conducting A/B testing on your banner ads. One of the best solutions to accurately measure the performance of your changes is to ensure Version B is identical to Version A save for just a few clicks or a single, critical element.
Commonly tested and optimized elements include the following:
- Calls-to-actions (CTAs): Your banner’s CTA is one of the most important elements of your banner ad, as it is designed to incite users to click with a short, concise phrase. Regularly testing and modifying your CTA can bring the most changes to your banner ad campaign’s performance, making it a critical part of your testing and optimization process.
- Colors: Even changing a simple element, such as the color of your CTA button or copy text, can affect your ad’s performance. Test different combinations of colors to find the most efficient configurations.
- Background elements: Banner ads may feature different background elements, such as photographs, detailed designs, simple patterns, or single flat colors. There is no single best answer as to which of these choices is the best for your banners.
One ad may perform better with a simple textured background overlaid with ad copy, while another may benefit from a photograph or artwork used as a background element. Don’t hesitate to test different assets and measure your banner ad’s performance with each to find what works best for your campaign.
- Value propositions: Besides the CTA, most of the copy in a typical banner ad will be spent on the value proposition due to the limited space for text. Regularly updating the wording without modifying the core message or intent can bring positive results if your banner ad campaign primarily focuses on showcasing value propositions to potential customers.
Common Banner Ad Sizes
Below is a breakdown of the most commonly used image resolutions in banner advertising. Each size has a specific name, helping advertisers and publishers identify banner types. Publishers can place ad spaces for specific banner sizes on their digital properties, and advertisers can adapt their creatives to each banner ad size used.
- 468 x 60 – Banner
- 300 x 50 – Mobile banner
- 320 x 100 – Large mobile banner
- 200 x 200 – Small square
- 250 x 250 – Square
- 300 x 250 – Inline rectangle, also called medium rectangle
- 336 x 280 – Large rectangle
- 728 x 90 – Leaderboard
- 970 x 90 – Large leaderboard
- 320 x 50 – Mobile leaderboard
- 120 x 600 – Skyscraper
- 300 x 600 – Mobile skyscraper, also called a half-page ad
How Much Do Banner Ads Cost?
Depending on the ad network, after an advertiser has developed their ad creatives and is ready to launch the campaign, they may have the option to choose from multiple monetization models.
Each model has its own uses and represents different methods of paying publishers to display ads on their digital properties. The most common monetization models for banner ad campaigns are CPM, CPC, CPA, and CPV.
Cost Per Mille (CPM)
The most common monetization model in digital advertising today is Cost Per Mille (CPM). Ad campaigns under the CPM model count the number of impressions generated, charging the advertiser a set amount for every 1,000 impressions the ad has received.
For example, if a banner ad campaign charges $2 CPM, it indicates the advertiser will pay the publisher $2 for every 1,000 impressions it generates throughout the campaign’s lifetime. If the campaign has generated 140,000 impressions, the advertiser will pay $280.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
One of the oldest digital advertising monetization models is Cost Per Click (CPC), also referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC). This model is the simplest to understand, charging advertisers a set amount every time a user clicks on the ad. The CPC model is one of the oldest, with the first PPC ad campaign launching on July 8, 1996.
A banner ad campaign with a listed cost of $1.25 CPC will charge advertisers $1.25 for each user that clicks on a clickable banner ad. If the campaign has generated 1,400 clicks during its lifetime, the advertiser will pay the publisher $1,750.
Cost Per Action (CPA)
Cost Per Action (CPA) campaigns are among the most versatile monetization options. This model charges advertisers whenever a user completes a desired action after interacting with an ad. CPA ads are among the most challenging to run because performance is defined according to the number of specific actions performed instead of views or clicks per web page. However, they can be highly effective for advertisers because they quickly attract and convert high-intent users.
In this context, “action” refers to a specific action defined by the advertiser that the user must complete. Examples of actions in a CPA campaign include:
- Installing an app
- Completing a purchase
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Completing a survey
- Filling out a form
- Watching a video
For example, a banner ad campaign costing $3.50 CPA will charge advertisers $3.50 for every user who has completed a desired action. If a CPA campaign generates 300 successful actions, the advertiser will pay $1,050 to the advertiser.
Cost Per View (CPV)
The Cost Per View (CPV) model is exclusively used on ad campaigns relying on video-based ad creatives. CPV campaigns measure performance based on the number of views generated instead of clicks, impressions, or actions.
Most ad networks supporting CPV campaigns will only validate a view after a user has seen at least 30 seconds of the video ad, sees it to completion if the video ad creative is under 30 seconds long, or interacts with it as with a CPC ad.
Banner ad campaigns monetized using CPV are relatively rare, as they require banners to support rich social media and use video creatives. However, well-configured CPV creatives can attract many high-intent users, making it one of the most potentially lucrative models for advertisers.
For example, a banner ad campaign with a listed price of $5.50 CPV will cost advertisers $5.50 for each validated view. If the CPV campaign generates 210 valid views, the advertiser must pay the publisher $1,155.
Additional Tips to Boost Your Banner Ad Campaign’s Effectiveness
While creating quality ad creatives and routinely testing and optimizing them is essential to ensure your great banner ad campaign’s performance, following these additional tips can help you maximize your banner ad campaign.
- Ensure your banners’ visual hierarchy. According to design hierarchy theory, most viewers scan documents in a set order, generally top left corner, top right corner, center, then the rest of the document. Following the rules of hierarchy can help you determine where to place and organize your banner’s elements to attract a viewer’s eyes more efficiently. For instance, you can place your brand or company logo in the top-left corner, showcase the product or service in the center, and your CTA in the bottom-right corner.
- Adapt the medium to your needs. While modern forms of banner advertising can integrate advanced animated images or rich media, they are also more expensive than traditional display banners with static images. Consider your options and opt for the most cost-effective solution. For instance, if you cannot convey your message more efficiently with rich media, opt for traditional static banners to reduce costs.
- Offer incentives: One of the most efficient ways to ensure your banner ads will receive views, clicks, or other interactions is to give users incentives. Examples of incentives include price discounts on products for sale, a “buy one get one free” offer, guarantees, trials, or free samples.
Although today’s banner ads are available in a broader range of formats and can integrate more technologies and functions than in the 1990s, the essential principles of banner advertising haven’t changed. Publishers and website operators lend some of the space on their websites, apps, and digital properties to advertisers, allowing them to display various sizes and types of ads.
Create The Perfect Banner Ads with CodeFuel
Whether you plan to promote your brand, product, or services with banner ads, managing your campaign and routinely testing and optimizing your banners can be arduous without proper guidance.
Don’t go at it alone; contact CodeFuel’s digital advertising experts team. Our team has access to the resources and expertise to help you find the best ways to optimize your banner ad campaign, boost your conversion rates, and increase your revenue. Learn more about our services today.