Getting Started: An Introductory Note

Online advertising is not only about cost-effectiveness, Google Adwords, Cost-Per-Click, Cost Per Impression, Facebook, Twitter, or blog postings, but it is also about creativity. With the web becoming a constantly evolving, busy and complex space, online advertising is evolving too and demanding a high dose of creativity. Creating memorable ads and making a long-lasting impression are a challenge since hundreds of similar ads are displayed and viewed everyday.

An ancient Chinese proverb says:
“Tell me and I’ll Forget;
Show Me and I may Remember;
Involve me and I’ll Understand.”

Ads should be interactive, playable, and entertaining and they should engage the viewers. This is the parameter that makes display ads an effective tool in online advertising. One of the predominant configurations of online advertisement, banner ads serve as the direct, graphical link to the advertiser’s website and this way, they can convert a simple reader into a potential customer. Needless to mention, banner layout or design influences the click-through rate and it is through the perfect combination of placement and attractive design that you can get the most out of your banner ads. Ads that are creative and attention-grabbing will fetch you the desired results and it is through the perfect combination of words, colors, graphics, and animation that you can create a great design.

Today, there’s more respect for internet users with banner advertising getting more sophisticated day by day. Such developments have led to the emergence of some well-defined rules and standards.

The Vital Design Components: Content and Design Content:

• Drafting the Message: Crafting a powerful message is vital to the creation of great display ads. In fact, copywriting is the most essential part of banner advertising. A good design reinforces the message, but the words you use actually define it. You should keep the target audience in mind while framing the content. You are offering a solution to a problem to make life easier for your prospects. They would be more receptive towards your message if it is easily understandable. A visitor is most likely to ignore your ad and move on if the message has difficult-to-understand technical terms and jargons. Keep in mind that the ad is targeted at them, and not at you! Focus on the benefits rather than on describing the features.

• Choosing the Appropriate Length: Your product has great features and you might want to mention all or most of them. Note that the readers have too little time to go through your message and wordy messages may actually bore the internet users. The best ideas for KISS (keeping it short and simple) may include writing a punchy headline or an enticing question, or a catchy call to action.

• Using Catchy Words: Use catchy words wisely. These words should sound catchy to your target audience as well. Avoid using words that are used by everybody and typical examples include “innovative”, “make money”, and “100 % value”. These words have stopped being attention-grabbers anymore and using them will not help you stand out from the crowd. Perhaps, “Free” is a powerful word that you may use to increase the chances of a click-through. But make sure you really have something valuable to offer for free. Getting some worthless clicks is probably not what you want.

• Using A Moving Call-to-Action: Readers may not understand subtle incentives. So the best approach would be to write an explicit call-to-action. The simplest and perhaps the most straightforward approach is to use something like “Click Here”, but other buzzwords that you may consider using are; “Learn More”, “Click to Play”, “Read Our Free Report”, and “Start Now”.

• Using Standard Sizes: Banner standard sizes were established with recommendations from the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) – the trade association for the internet marketing industry. It is best to stick to a standard size because most of the publishers accept only a few banner formats and it is definitely not a wise idea to create different formats for different publishers.

• Selecting the Appropriate Typography: Selection of the perfect typography is an integral part of banner design. Serif fonts reflect professionalism, authenticity, and trustfulness. However, they cannot be used in small banners that feature longish copies, but can be used effectively in headings, sub-headings, call to actions, and buttons. Examples include Georgia, Garamond, Times New Roman, Palatino Linotype, and Bookman Old Style. You can use Sans Serif fonts such as Gothic Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Trebuchet, and Helvetica if you intend to incorporate a sense of friendliness, boldness, and easiness.

• Choosing the Right Colors: Choice of colors goes beyond artistic pursuit to assume a much bigger shape. It has to deal with the psychological effect of the marketing plan. Strong colors such as red and bright orange can draw viewer’s attention very easily while pale colors add elegance and style to the looks. You may also wish to create a color scheme taking into account the colors of the publisher’s website. Avoid creating banners with speedy color shifting which will only work to irritate the viewers. You can get some valuable inputs from color scheme generators.

• Making the Best Use of Images: Complex messages can be conveyed easily using appropriate images. Images are great attention grabbers and as you can understand, getting noticed is difficult and hence, invaluable in today’s market. Images have a fairly big file size in comparison to text and graphic elements so, they need to be cropped or resized to fit a standard sized banner. Online photo editing tools such as Pixlr and Picnik may prove to be useful. Your design composition should include a well-defined subject that should stand as a center of attention. This should be the point from where readers should start reading the banner while gradually shifting their focus to other design elements one after another.

• Creating Lively Ads through Animations: You have two options- static banners and animated banners and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Professional image editors such as Photoshop are used to create static banners, which normally come in JPG, PNG, and GIF formats. Static banners are accepted by most of the publishers and they do not irritate the viewers to a great extent. Flash banners, which normally appear as flash objects (SWF) or animated GIF banners, are created using flash content editors such as BannerSnack and AdobeFlash. A GIF editor can be used create GIF animations that appear to more like a picture slideshow. The moving elements in animated banners draw attention and this is why, animated banners get easily noticed. You can convey a complex message or tell a story by using animated banner ads.

• Using Rich Media Banners: Rich media banners represent a combination of flash, text, image, sound, and video. They often come with interactive features including options to play a game, choose an item from a drop-down, turn the sound on/ off, and so on. The use of rich media banners has become a popular trend today and advertisers are ready to make substantial investments on them. Improving user experience through fun elements and by giving them information in an exciting way, rich media banners definitely work better than the conventional ones. They are a must-include in the design if the client is ready to invest on a big, well-planned campaign.

The Dos:
• Try different approaches. Create different versions of a similar ad and seek the opinions of those people who were not part of the design process. Often a fresh eye can inject something new!

• Think from a viewer’s perspective while designing the display advertisement. It is targeted to please them and not you.

• Use looping thoughtfully. Some publishers do not accept looping ads and a never-ending looping ad may actually prove to be annoying.

• Think before using expandable banners. Such banners expand to many times their original size due to mouse action and even automatically. Imagine an ad getting expanded covering an interesting article that you might be reading! Wouldn’t you click on the X button immediately?

• First impression is the last impression. Hence, give equal attention to the landing page. Add some of the graphic elements of the banner to the landing page. This will make the landing page appear familiar to the visitor. Another approach is to link the banner ad directly to the web page that features what the ad is promoting.

The Don’ts:
• Don’t use technical words and jargons that are hardly understood by your prospects.

• Don’t fool readers by misguiding them with a catchy call-to-action. Stay simple in your approach if you are selling simple products.

• Don’t use too many irrelevant colors which might ultimately result in the creation of a cheap design.

• Don’t include too much of jumping, flashing, and blurring in an animated banner advertisement. This will only prove to be tiring for the readers’ eyes!

• Don’t use pop-ups and pop-unders. Pop-ups and pop-unders annoy consumers. Most importantly, many internet browsers come with pop-up blockers and so there’s a possibility that a pop-up ad won’t be seen at all.

The Endnote:

Remember, the message carries the central theme of the ad and that the design empowers and reinforces it. So, getting the right message across through perfect content and graphics should be your ultimate objective rather than designing a colorful eye-candy. Quality and impact are invaluable!

Last Tip:

Numbers speak… so, measure your results.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 at 9:36 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply