At the dawn of the digital advertising evolution, when first display ads only started to appear on the Internet, it was no sweat to grab user attention with catching creative. Nowadays, when the average consumer sees over 5000 ads daily, this task turned into almost an impossible mission. Today advertisers should carefully test and consider every detail of their display advertising creative, as each of them can play a defining role in getting a decent ROI on display ads.

Everything can play a decisive role - display ad sizes, structure, colors, advertising frequency. The whole process of creative development and tuning involves lots of subtleties that are vital for building a successful creative strategy for your display campaign. In this article, we are going to explore some of the best advertising ideas for a digital display campaign. Let’s explore the best display ads examples to help you break through the noise.

Benefits of display advertising

Before we dive into practice, let us first start with some important questions - why use display advertising? In 2020 more than $68 billion will be spent on digital display ads in the US and each year this number will be growing. In fact, display advertising remains to be one of the most widely used forms of online advertising throughout the last decades. Why is it so and what is one of the major benefits of display ads?

The reach provided by display advertising is clearly one of its biggest assets - you can show your display advertising creative to millions of people worldwide because the format is universal and is supported by almost all ad platforms. One can find an audience for almost any product or service from any business niche. The huge variety of display ad sizes and formats allows you to create a perfectly resonating message for your audience.

Plenty of targeting solutions bring in the major benefits of display ads. With their help, marketers can achieve a wide range of business goals from brand awareness to increased conversions and revenue. For instance, one can opt for behavioral targeting if they have enough data or focus on contextual targeting, especially if their target market belongs to the areas within GDPR influence.

Display advertising best practices

The benefits of display advertising are countless, but it is only possible to explore their full potential with an effective creative strategy for your display campaign. The importance of well-designed display creative is often overlooked, while in practice the creative often defines the user’s first impression about your brand. In the meantime, surveys confirm that for 50% of companies the creative design is a crucial element of success. Clearly, there’s no need to focus all of your efforts on design, but with some effort and a high-quality creative, display advertising can become a real game-changer for your business. Here are some tips on how to create the best display ads:

1.Come up with a clear message

Start with the precise intention - what is it that you want to communicate to your audience? What is your offer and how is it different from competitors? The message should emphasize your unique proposition in a clear and simple manner. Next, look through your branding strategy and make sure your message is consistent with the overall image of your company. It should also match the webpage where the users are landing after encountering your ad. Finally, make sure your call-to-action also underlines the unique benefits of your offers. Avoid click-bait and generic messaging, as this can annoy users and harm the first impression your business makes.

Here is a great display ads example with a compelling message and clear call-to-action:

Display ad

2.Maintain structure

Every display ad should have a structure and defined elements that could then be rearranged to fit various display ad sizes and formats. The most fundamental elements of a display ad include:

  • Your company’s name and logo should be clearly visible in order to make your brand recognizable. It will build associations between your services and your business.
  • A value proposition that contains the main message and should take up most space on your display ad creative. The main aim is to make your proposition catchy and compelling - for instance, special offers and discounts work well. Make sure that the main benefit of your offer is obvious and is matched with the call-to-action and other elements.
  • Visual elements that would showcase your products and illustrate offers. These usually play a complementary role or serve as a background, depending on the product advertised.
  • Call-to-action is usually a link or a button that should lead the customer to an optimized and well-matched landing page with the actual offer. This is the key element of your ad. In some cases a simple CTA optimization with the landing page was reported to increase leads by over 200%. Here is a “Bluehost” sample screen advertisement with all these elements.

You can then re-arrange them to fit different formats and contexts. Remember that the images shouldn’t distract users from the text, so make sure that your value proposition and the CTA are the most visible elements. Avoid overlaps and too many blank spaces. Here is one of the great display ad examples with a nice structure that looks natural and highlights the most important elements.

Display ad

3.Pay attention to image specifications

Once you’ve come up with the fundamental elements and structure, it is time to dive into visual details such as your display banner ad sizes, formats, and other specifications. First of all, there are plenty of banner ad formats to choose from, such as rich media, interstitial and responsive display ads.

Next, it is important to choose the suitable sizes for the ads on your campaign. IAB offers a comprehensive classification of possible ad unit sizes, which includes medium rectangle (300x250), large rectangle (336x280), wide skyscraper (160x600), leaderboard (728x90), billboard (970x250), and many others. Among these, some are performing better than the others - Google Adsense reports that the most successful display ad sizes are leaderboard, large and medium rectangle, as well as half-page(300x600).

Standard ad units

Other important specifications to consider are file details. What would be the file format of your creative? Or what about the file size? It should always align with your demand-side platform specifications. For instance, on SmartyAds DSP one can choose from jpg, png, bmp, gif or html5. The file size shouldn’t exceed 150Kb so that the ads wouldn’t increase page latency.

4.Create a consistent color scheme

Finally, the visual part of your display creative journey includes choosing the right color scheme for your ad. There are many subtleties to consider while deciding, such as color psychology, your current brand image, an ad’s context, and much more. Make sure your ads are grabbing the user’s attention by using vivid colors and an inviting message.

Use color psychology while picking a color - there are plenty of resources on this topic. For instance, findings from Joe Hallock clearly show that the most liked color for both men and women is blue. At the same time, it was shown that purple was considered more favorable for women, while men preferred green. Each color brings its emotions and associations - use the handy chart below to ease your choice. But don’t forget that your campaign should match your overall brand image and, especially, your landing pages.

Display ad

5.Pick the right frequency

Finally, another important display advertising practice is to keep an eye on advertising frequency. If it is too low the users will forget about you, if it is too high - and they will be annoyed. This one is especially important if you need to choose among the best display ads within the campaign with different messaging and visuals. You can experiment, track their performance and then optimize your campaign continuously.

Normally, one user should see the ad from 3 to 5 times daily in order to memorize the message and yet stay engaged. However, it depends a lot on your business goals and specifics of your niche, thus, we recommend adhering to the best niche practices and professional opinion. Generally, CPC campaigns work best with 1/24 daily frequency cap, and for CPM it can increase up to 3/24. You can always edit this setting at the ‘Frequency’ parameter while ‘Adding New Creative’ on your demand-side platform.

Advertising frequency

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Written by
IRINA KOVALENKO, CMO OF SMARTYADS
August 2020