The design of an online banner can make a lot of difference in the response it generaties. With a well designed advert the response rate could be as high as two or three percent, a poorly designed banner in the same position and for the same product could generate as little as 0.1percent. There is little doubt that successful online advertising depends upon good online banner ads design.
How to Design Effective Banner Ads – The first step in creation of an online advert, whether it is to be created in house or by a design agency, is its conceptualization. Banner ad design should both embody the proposed campaign and also grab the viewer’s attention. You will need to decide what the banner will say, and how should it look, ads should be designed with your audience in mind. There are few rules about online ad design but the following points are worth remembering:
- bright colors always work better than pastels
- animated graphics generate a better response than static ones.
- the use of words like “Free” and “Click Here” will generate more click-throughs.
- posing a question will often attract more attention.
- the use of cryptic copy can also attract readers’ attention.
More on designing your own banner ads later on in this article
Having created a conceptualized online banner design the next stage is to decide who should create your ad. In making this decision you need to look at two factors:
- do you have the necessary talent and tools available in-house.
- what are your budget limitations.
If all you want to create is a simple, text-based banner advert then creating it in-house is quite easy providing you have the necessary software tools. All you will need is a basic drawing/painting package, such as Photoshop or Corel. However, remember that if you do not have this software then buying it can cost as much as having an ad produced by a design house. There is also the fact that banner ads must look professional, a badly designed ad will give a poor impression of your site and will not encourage visitors.
For more sophisticated banner adverts a design house or ad agency is essential. In choosing the company you intend to use remember that smaller firms, especially start-ups and young ad agencies, usually charge less than established well known agencies. It can be well worth shopping around, checking not only prices and quality of work, but also checking their existing client list and looking at live online examples of ads similar to the one you want them to design.
The cost of creating your ad will vary, and depend upon who is doing it, and how complicated the ad is, an interactive Java based ad will obviously cost a great deal more than a text-based ad. However, you can expect to pay between £80 and £600 for a single banner ad produced by a small to medium sized agency, double this for a big agency. Some of the online design houses are cheaper, one worth checking out is BannerWorkz.com .
Designing your own ads
Before sitting down with your graphics package you need to first consider what you want your banner ad to achieve. In other words what is the target audience, what is your business objective, and how do you want to portray your company. With these point clearly in your mind you can start on the design process.
Design of a good banner ad starts not with graphics, but with the advertising copy, in other words the text that potential customers read. It is the text which will persuade the viewer to click on the ad, it is the text which will make him or her notice the ad in the first place. The ad copy must therefore, be striking, succinct, and provocative, and if you want to know more about writing good ad copy, check out the article Advertising headlines that sell
With a good text headline for your banner ad, the next step is to add the graphics. The function of the graphics imagery is twofold, it gets people to actually see the ad, and it reinforces the message conveyed by the text. Getting people to actually see an ad is very important, today most of us are so accustomed to seeing ads that we subconsciously ignore them, and to overcome this you need a certain amount of visual creativity.
If you look at professionally produced ads you will see that the best ones tend to use visual imagery that suggests, shocks, or seduces the viewer. The inclusion of a picture of a naked girl is an old and over used example of this use of imagery in advertising. This means that you need to find some imagery for your ad which fulfils this function, but which also includes some visual metaphor which conveys your key message without reading the text.
When it comes to the use of images, visual creativity is the key to the success of your banner, and is one reason why it is often best to employ a professional designer for this part of the process since unfortunately most of us are not well blessed with such creativity. If you still want to do this part yourself then brainstorming the concept with a few friends and colleagues can help you to find some suitable visual image.
Of course there are some visual tricks that you can use to improve the power of your ad to attract people, and one of the most important of these techniques is to add animation. A moving image will often attract someone’s attention, and is very easy to add, however, it is starting to be over used in online banners and consequently should be used in a refined manner that uses the animation to reinforce the message that the ad is attempting to communicate.
One final point when designing an banner ad is that you should always ask the viewer for a click, but do it in a subtle way, you do not want the text message “click here” to look as if you are ordering them to click, but rather that you are suggesting that they click.
Always test ads thoroughly
Whether you have designed your own banner advert, or used an agency to design one for you, it is vital that you test the ad before paying out money to actually place the ad. This is very important because what you need to know is how effective that ad is, does it pull in the visitors or not, and if it does, what percentage of those visitors become customers.
The Internet is the ideal medium for testing ads, since it allows you to measure response in a very controlled manner. You could of course test the ads on your own site, but a far better way is to test them using a banner exchange network such as Microsoft bCentral LinkExchange. The exchange maintains statistics and you can use these to measure how effective an ad is in getting visitors, you can also add tracking to your ad to further determine where visitors are coming from, a good technique if you are comparing the effectiveness of several different ads. – see article on ads tracking.
If you test thoroughly, an you will need to get at least 1000 banner impressions to be able to perform any meaningful analysis, you can not only avoid wasting expensive advertising, but you can also discover how ad response can often be improved by making very small changes to it.
Rich media advertising
A new concept in Internet advertising is being promoted by online companies. It is called rich media advertising, and simply means that instead of having static, or very simple GIF animated banners one can use the power of modern PCs to create full multimedia adverts complete with video and sound. These can be achieved without creating advert file sizes much greater than 10K, by use of technologies such as Java, video streaming, Flash, and Enliven. Given the current average 56K modem, the 10 K limit is important because anything larger would seriously slow down page loading.
The incorporation of these new technologies into banner design also allows greater interactivity to be incorporated. Online ads can now include interactive games, puzzles. even crosswords. One can add pull down boxes within a banner ad allowing people to buy directly from the advert without having to go to the advertiser’s web site. These are all very new ideas and I am sure we will see a lot more of them emerging over the next year or so.