How to Make Banner Ads That Get Clicked and Drive Conversions

Google makes it incredibly easy to run text ads across the Google Display Network. But for advertisers who want to use banner ads, it’s a little trickier. You either need to have an in-house designer, use a freelance designer, or make them yourself using Google’s ad templates. None of these options are without their own challenges, and we’ll walk you through common pain points and keys to success of each.

 

Keep file size below 150kb

The biggest issue we see when banner ads are designed in-house (and to a lesser extent, by freelancers), is that files are too big. For most ad units, each file must be 150kb or less. I repeat, each ad must be 150kb or less. If you’re running animated GIFs, that small size can be challenging. One option is to make really slick ads using HTML5, but that is considerably more challenging for designers so we recommend starting with static or “lightly” animated GIFs. Remember, 150kb or less!

 

Start with 728x90, 300x250, and 160x600 sizes

Google will automatically resize those three ad units to fit other, similarly shaped ad units. So for marketers on a budget or who are time-crunched, definitely start there.

 

The most common banner ad sizes (in general order of performance) are:

  • 728x90
  • 300x250
  • 336x280
  • 120x600
  • 160x600
  • 300x600
  • 250x250
  • 200x200
  • 970x90
  • 320x100
  • 320x50
  • 300x1050
  • 468x60

 

Some other requirements to keep in mind:

  • Your ad’s dimensions must exactly match Google’s specs. If the ad is just one pixel too big or two small, it won’t be accepted.
  • If your ad uses animation, that animation length must be shorter than 31 seconds (no endless looping), and must be slower than 5 frames per second.
  • Do not use any flashing effects or other distracting animation.
  • Anything that is spammy or not professional will likely be disapproved.
  • Use the highest resolution images you can (but remember the 150kb file size cap).
  • Use text that is easy to read, even on small screens. If reviewing your ads on a desktop or laptop, try standing five feet away from the ads and see if you can still read them.
  • Images used for Facebook ads can’t contain more than 20% text. Google’s banner ad policies aren’t as strict or specific, but try to keep text covering no more than 50% of the ad’s footprint.
  • If you don’t want your ads animated, you can also create ads in .JPEG, .JPG, or .PNG file formats.

 

How do I make my ads highly clickable?

The first step in making sure your ad gets clicked actually has nothing to do with the ad design itself. Rather, you’ll want to ensure it’s targeted to the right audience. Assuming you’ve nailed the targeting, here are some tips to ensure your banner ads get clicked at a high rate:

  • The most important element is having a call-to-action (CTA) like Shop Now, Sign Up, or Get It Free.
  • CTAs are more impactful when they live in a button that is brightly colored (blue, green, orange, and red often work best). That button should “pop” off the page and practically beg you to click on it.
  • Use large, eye-catching imagery that can be distinguished on a small screen (or on a large screen from five feet away). Try zooming in on a single product instead of zooming out on a number of products.
  • Analyze your text ad copy performance and use your best-performing text ad copy in your banner ad.
  • When deciding what to animate, consider cycling through images of a few top-selling products. Or break your text copy into a few shorter phrases and cycle through those. But don’t animate both imagery and text, choose one or the other. And don’t use animation for animation’s sake. Make sure it’s relevant to your message and your brand.
  • Ads should have a thin border around them, so they can be distinguished from other page content when your ad’s background color matches that of the website it’s served on.

 

Which banner ad elements lead to high conversion rates?

Clicks are just half the equation. Performance marketers want conversions too! As with designing ads to maximize CTR, you first want to make sure you’ve nailed your targeting. Even the best-designed ad will fail if you serve it to the wrong audience. Here are some other tips to remember:

  • Include your offer in the copy. Not surprisingly, the more discount you offer, the better CTR and Conversion Rate you can expect. We’ve also found that $ off discounts tend to outperform % off discounts. BOGOs work well too.
  • Not into discounting? We don’t blame you. Then focus on your key differentiation points and stress urgency.
  • Ensure your landing page is reinforcing the messaging and offer of your ad, and that it loads quickly. The design of your ads should resemble your landing page to some degree, so that there is no disconnect when clickers land on your page. For example, don’t use a dark color scheme for your ads if your website sits on a white background.
  • As much as marketers want to think we’re optimized for mobile, the fact remains that mobile conversion rates still pale in comparison to desktop conversion rates. As a browser of the internet, you’ve probably seen a ton of banner ads on your phone that really just get in the way of the article you’re trying to read. We recommend taking a hard look at mobile’s place in your conversion funnel and decide if it makes sense to invest heavily in mobile banner ads, or if those dollars could be better invested in desktop and tablet banner ads.

 

I don’t have an in-house designer. Where can I get ads designed?

If you don’t have a graphic designer on staff, or that person doesn’t have the time or experience to design good banner ads, consider using a freelancer service such as freelancer.com, upwork.com (formerly elance.com), fiverr.com, or 99designs.com. No matter which site you use, make sure the freelancer you hire has experience designing banner ads so you don’t have to coach them on basics like specs and policies. If you want your ads done quickly and without the need to review bids from multiple freelancers, consider designpax.com. You can get a set of animated banner ads in the three key ad sizes designed for just $104. You’ll see your first draft within 48 hours, and they give you three rounds of revisions.

 

I don’t have any budget for banner ad design. What should I do?

If you can’t cough up a measly $104 for designpax.com, you probably need to re-evaluate your priorities. But we get it, sometimes you just don’t want to spend any money on design. In those cases, try making the ads yourself using Google’s Ad Gallery. It provides some templates and then you can customize the colors, images, and text. They don’t look as professional as a well-designed custom ad, but they are free and pretty easy to make.

 

My head is spinning. Can’t someone just take care of this for me?

Absolutely. That’s what Magnifi Online is here for. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you design, test, and optimize banner ads that get clicked and drive conversions.