By Tom Ogg
Joanie and I offer advertising opportunities on some of our websites and I am always amazed how some of the most ineffective banner ads seem to show up as advertisements to be placed on our sites. I can’t believe that people would not want to have the most effective ads possible. After all, the more effective the ad, the more clicks they generate and the more business will be consummated.
Banner ads can be amazingly successful and with today’s advertising rates, they can also be quite cost effective. While there are many considerations when designing and using banner ads, here are some of the most important to contemplate.
Research Your Competition: More than anything, one must understand exactly what the competition is doing and why. Look at your competitor’s banner ads and see which ones draw you to them and which ones don’t. What fonts are they using and what size type? What colors? How large are the ads they are running? Are they animated or not? How is their call-to-action presented? When you click on their ad how strong is their landing page? Make a note when you see an advertisement that is especially engaging and what about the ad that is inviting to you.
K.I.S.S.: Everyone knows what this means; Keep It Simple Stupid. This is the very best advice to remember when creating your advertisement. Your ad has a single purpose and that is to get your potential client to click on it to visit your landing page where you can then consummate a sale. You should have as few images and textual presentations, as possible. Think “Less is More” and you should be fine. Leave any details to the landing page and never bog down your ad with unnecessary content. Simple, simple, simple is the right approach. And, never use a word that is not absolutely necessary to get your potential client to click on your ad.
Size Matters: As a rule of thumb, the most dominant banner ad will get the first and most clicks. This could be the ad that is the largest size, has the largest font or is the most interesting. If your competitors are running larger ads than you are, your ad must be more engaging, or you will never get any attention from prospective clients. You only have a split second to connect with your potential new client, so your ad must dominate their attention and make them want to click on the ad rather than just stay on the page the ad appears upon, or worse, click on someone else’s ad. Banner ads that use only one or two words per frame are much more effective than those that use way too many words on a single frame.
Static, Flash or Animated .gif?: There are many types of banner ad formats to use.
A static ad consists of just one frame that displays the message to the reader. These may be .gifs, .jpegs or .pngs. The ad delivers the message and is linked to a landing page for the message. Static ads can work well if the messages can be shared in very few words and presents a powerful call to action.
Flash ads use flash technology and generally have quite a bit of movement incorporated in the ad. Flash allows the designer quite a bit of design latitude to create completely unique advertisements that engage folks. Flash does have drawbacks however. The person looking at the ad must have the version of Flash installed in their browser to see the ad. Many tablets and other mobile devices cannot see flash at all. iPad users, as an example will not see your ad if it is built in Flash.
Animated .gifs are created by making several frames and connecting them to rotate in an animated fashion. Think about the way old time cartoons were made and you get the idea. Animated .gifs have numerous advantages, as long as the animation is reasonably simple. Animated .gifs can tell your story in a concise and convincing way that may compel potential new clients to click on the ad for more information. Animated .gifs also have the advantage of being tagged it with keywords.
Font, Color and Rotation Speed: It doesn’t matter what format you use to create your advertisement there are certain design elements that should be closely monitored.
Using fonts that are clearly readable and recognizable is mandatory for a successful ad. Always avoid using any font that requires the reader to take a second glance to read it. Designer fonts can be effective in print ads, but can render a banner ad completely ineffective. Stick to basic fonts such as ariel and times new roman and never use a font smaller than 10 pts. As a rule, the larger the font size, the more engaging the advertisement. Select the right font for the number of letters and the space format of the ad.
Never use reds, beiges or other colors that cannot be seen by many readers due to color vision deficiency. Using white type on a beige background (or other similar combinations) automatically guarantees a significant number of potential clients can’t even see your ad. Before you design the ad, check the page that it will appear on and then choose contrasting colors for the ad. As an example, if the page is a light blue, select a dark blue background with white type.
When creating an automated .gif each slide can be created to appear for a specific amount of time. The timing can be a short as 1/100th of a second or forever and any variation of times in between. If a frame is delivering a good amount of text (bad idea) it should be displayed long enough for everyone to read it if they choose to do so. Banner ads that rotate too fast will simply get no clicks.
Call to Action: The entire purpose of the ad in the first place is to get potential clients to click on it. Don’t be shy about making sure that the reader gets the message that they should take action to access more information. While many people use the proverbial “Click Here” call to action, using a little more creativity will work wonders. Think your ad all the way through to an exciting and engaging call to action and watch your results soar.
Fulfill Your Promise: Nothing will kill your “Click to Sale” ratio faster than delivering the click to a generic website that has nothing to do with the presentation of the banner ad. You should deliver the potential client to a landing page that is set up to do one simple thing; convert the click into a sale. While there have been volumes written about creating the optimum landing page, here are just a few tips.
* Use a domain name that shouts your landing page’s value proposition. As an example, if you are selling a 4 island, 15 day Hawaii trip for $995, how about using www.4island15dayHawaiiVacationfor$995.com
* Remove all navigation and only use pop-up windows to deliver additional information. Don’t give your visitor the opportunity to leave your site by clicking on a link. They will either buy or leave.
* Don’t waste words. Only use content designed to help the visitor do one thing; buy what you are selling.
* Offer continuing engagement. Offer a free newsletter, report, video, booklet or something to engage the visitor so that you can capture their name and email address.
* Follow up with every visitor in person. Send personalized emails and if you can capture their telephone number, call them to make sure their experience didn’t leave them with any questions.