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6 Tips for Making a Successful Display Ad

Alexander Kesler

Imagine yourself driving past a billboard – you are focusing on the road and quickly whiz past the ad on the side of the highway. Do you remember which brand it was for? Do you remember what, in particular, it was advertising? Did you even notice it?

These are the same challenges that you face when you use display ads. People only have a short window of time to see, understand, develop interest in, and click on your ad - and this is without even mentioning the added difficulty of competing with other ads for the same viewers' attention. So, while completely redirecting your audience’s attention may not be the best idea for companies using billboards along highways, this should be the goal of your display ads. Here are 6 tips to improve the likelihood that the next time your target audience scrolls by your ad, they not only notice it, but click it.

 1. Appropriate Location:

First and foremost, simply put - if your ad lacks relevance, it will lack success. That is why choosing the websites and pages on which you want your display ads to appear is arguably the most important decision. Here's how to ensure that your marketing efforts do not go to waste right from the start:

  • Relevance - your ad must be displayed on pages and websites that are associated with your industry, company, product, or service.

You can advertise your businesses' deals on a local news portal like Avidia Bank, operating in Massachusetts, did on The Boston Globe website.

Boston Globe Ad

  • Interest - your ad can also be displayed on sites that are consistent with your target audience's interests. However, this requires that you have done ample research in order to fully understand your appropriately-defined target market.

2. Visible Positioning:

Unfortunately, simply being applicable to the viewers is not enough to guarantee their attention. That is why you must consider all aspects of your display ad, including its view-ability, in order to give your brand the best chance of engaging with a potential new customer. The most competitive and successful display ad positions, in descending order, are:

  • The top - ads with this location are known as pushdown banners because they move the content of the web-page down, giving you more space for your message. Because your eyes are typically drawn to the top of the page first, ads with this positioning receive the most attention.

IBM used this pushdown ad on the Fast Company website, making it relevant, useful, and highly visible to the visitors.

IBM Cloud Display Ad

  • Above the fold – ads above the fold are visible without the user having to scroll down the web-page, while “run of site” ads can be displayed anywhere.
  • The right-hand side - ads in this location still have a lot of visibility, however, they do not typically generate as many clicks.

3. Eye-Grabbing Image

The image and colors you choose for your display ad are crucial. Regardless of the positioning of your ad, an eye-catching image can help you successfully draw an individual's focus away from the content of the web-page and to your message instead. The most attention-grabbing types of images are:

  • Boldly colored (e.g. green, yellow, red, blue, etc.) - these can be very distracting to the viewers, in a way that is beneficial to you. However, be sure these colors are consistent with your brand or industry, as well as the landing page to which the ad directs, because otherwise it may be mistaken for spam.
  • Clear and relevant (logo, industry-related image, etc.) - a simple image that is applicable to both your company and your target audience will resonate better with your viewers and be more successful in attracting their interest.

Skinnytaste kept their ad very simple, but eye-catching. Their brand name is prominently displayed and they use images to their advantage. Not only do the images promote their product, but they also draw the eyes of their audience by being colorful and enticing.

Skinnytaste Display Ad

  • Appealing to the eye (landscapes, individuals, etc.) - attractive images are more inviting to any individual, but don't forget to keep that image relevant to your business!

4. Catchy Copy

Now that you have gotten the viewer to give your ad that much sought-after, but disappointingly brief, glance, the next step is to get them to linger. This is where catchy copy coaxes clicks (did you like that alliteration?). Don't view the space limitation as a constraint; embrace it as an opportunity to convey your message in the most concise and interesting way possible. Be creative, engaging, and direct - provide just enough information to incite curiosity. The best ways to quickly grab not only people's attention, but also their interest, is by using:

  • Curiosity-inducing words, phrases, and questions (e.g. "find out," "don't miss," "beware," "announcing," "here's why no one knows” etc.) - these will make your audience want to click your ad in order to find out more and get some answers.
  • Urgency establishing words or phrases (e.g. "now," "get it while you can," "need," "don't miss out," etc.) - like with Nissan's "Get Limited Time Offers" ad, this strategy will make your audience feel more inclined to click on your ad immediately because it creates the concern that they will otherwise miss out.

Nissan Display Ad

  • Numbers and symbols (e.g. !, ?, %, $, etc.) - these are more quickly absorbed by viewers, thereby making it easier for them to understand and retain your message. Statistics about the industry or your product are compelling as well.
  • Bold lettering and fonts - bold the words that you want to stand out, the ones that most clearly state the benefit of your product, service, or offer. Harry & David does this well by keeping their brand name font consistent, and by boldly and prominently displaying the benefit of their offer (30% off memberships).

Harry & David Display Ad

5. Effective 'Call-to-Action':

So you have gotten your audience's attention and they have read the message on your display ad, but now comes the real challenge – not just getting them to click it, but then to, more importantly, convert. In most cases, the purpose of your ad is to ultimately increase conversions. Your 'call-to-action' must clearly state what you are looking for the viewer to do, which should be whatever action you believe will bring about a conversion. Boost your conversions by following these successful tips:

  • Decide on what you want your display ad to accomplish (a.k.a what you consider to be a conversion) before you write your 'call-to-action' and publish the ad.

This is inSegment’s recent work for our client, Cambridge College. Their goal was to increase lead generation through the enrollment of students, so we developed this very clear call-to-action: "Enroll Today."

Cambridge College Display Ad

•         Give your clickers a clear and accurate expectation of where they will be redirected. Meaning, if you consider a subscription as a conversion, then your button should read something like "Subscribe Now," and link directly to the subscription form on your website. This will not only increase conversions, but also the satisfaction of your audience by consistently meeting their expectations.

  • Make them an appropriate size and color. Don't make them so large that they overwhelm the entire ad, but also not too small that they are unnoticeable - you want them to be just right.

6. Quality Landing Page:

Yes, your eye-catching image, snappy copy, and compelling 'call-to-action' got the user to click on your ad, but if they then end up on a poorly-developed landing page, the chances that they will stay there long (or at all) are slim to none. Operate a successful and engaging landing page by making it:

  • Optimized for Conversions – the conversion action which you want the user to do should be prominent. If your goal is generating leads, like Airbnb, then a form for lead generation should be prominently displayed above the fold, such as their "Join Us."

AirBnB Display Ad

  • Professional - you dress for work to look the part, so why wouldn't you do the same for your website? Make sure your landing page's design is consistent with the quality and level of service you promise to provide.
  • Navigational - label tabs and links clearly, and organize it in a way that is intuitive to the user.
  • Simple - there is no need to over-complicate or clutter. Bombarding your users with too much content or too many links upon arrival is overwhelming and stressful, making them want to leave more quickly. Instead, just be straightforward. And when in doubt, simply remember that a neat and concise page is always best. Airbnb does this well by making their call-to-action landing page very conversion-friendly. That is, users are directly sent to the prominently displayed sign-up page.

AirBnB Conversion Page

  • Appealing - use images, colors, and differently-sized text in order to add some flare and variation that is more attractive to your audience.
  • Quick to load - regardless of how well-designed your website may be, people will never see it if it loads too slowly.

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Alexander Kesler is the Founder and President of inSegment, Inc., a Boston-based digital marketing agency specializing in website design and development, B2B lead generation, branding, SEO, and PPC.
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Madison Quinn
Hello, All the time i can see better articles from you guys. Thanks a lot. My self Madison from TekSlate com
Mohammad Farooq
Interesting article. Thanks for that.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

#1 – Using a misleading CTA

#2 – Focusing on your CTR instead of your ROI

#3 – Skipping A/B testing

#4 – Advertising on the wrong sites

#5 – Not running social media display ads

Check this article for more tips on Display Advertising:
very usefull article..thankyou

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