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Banner Advertising Best Practices

The Internet is a wild place with gobs of information being tossed at users on every page. This bombardment of noise can make it difficult to effectively get your messages out. Well designed banner advertisements are one way to counteract the signal to noise ratio of the web. By following the best practices I have outlined below, you go a long way towards getting the most bang for your buck.

Start With a Message

The most important thing in designing a banner ad is to have a clear message about a single idea. Everything else in the design will cascade from this point. A muddled message will lead to a muddled advertisement and hamper any chances of communicating it with your audience. On the other hand a strong message about a single idea will make the design process less painful by answering questions for your audience.

Know the Field of Play

Not all advertising channels on the Internet are created equally. Before you even begin designing your banner ad, know where it is going to be displayed. This will help in targeting the right audience, as well as dictate the design specifications of the actual ads and play a role in the positioning of the ads.

Sizing Up Success

Every Web site has its own size requirements for banner ads, and knowing this before you start work is crucial. Banner ads should be divided between the message (2/3 of the space) and the call to action (1/3 of the space). A complex message is not going to fit into a small 125 x 125 pixel square, and knowing that ahead of time is crucial.

Positioned to Win

There have been several studies done on the effectiveness of various locations on a web page in regards to eye tracking and advertisement click through rates. generally, the hierarchy from best position to worst is as follows:

  • Within the Page Content
  • In the Heading
  • The Right Column
  • The Left Column
  • Rotating Advertisements
  • Below the Page Fold

Breaking It All Down

Solid banner advertisements all share the same basic components. This list is far from exhaustive, but provides a good starting point for the creation of quality banner ads.

  • Have a Strong Headings
    • Use short captivating statements
    • A font and size different from the rest of the advertisement
  • Creative Copy
    • Short and to the point catch phrases using terms like Free, Tax Rebate, and On Sale
  • On Target Graphics
    • Use images and colors that reflect the message, not general related imagery
  • A Strong Call to Action
    • Use bright colors and clickable shapes
  • One Message Per Banner
    • If you are selling more than one product, create more than one advertisement
    • Multiple ads per campaign allow you to diversify your message
  • Animation and Motion can draw the eye in a static environment, but get lost in one that has lots of other animations
  • Use a color scheme that compliments, not clash with the web page it will be displayed on