Banner Ad Best Practices

2017 started off as the first year in history in which Digital Advertising surpassed TV ads in amount of dollars spent per year. This is not a surprise if we look at the great variety of options that online campaigns have to offer. Examples include different pricing, reach, and medium that can adjust to any budget and number of objectives.

Examples include different pricing, reach, and a medium that can adjust to any budget and number of objectives.

One of the most recognized types of online ads are Display Ads, commonly referred as banner ads, which can help generate impressions (or even close a sale in some cases.)

START WITH A SOLID STRUCTURE

Universally, there are no rules for Banner Ads / Display Ads. However, there are certain specs that all banners need to meet before being published. The network running the ad (Google, DCM) defines the specifications.

Most of these specs restrict the:

  • file size
  • frame rate
  • length.

Of course, each publisher has its own specific rules so be sure to check the guidelines.

banner ads common sizes

Regarding the design and layout of the banner, most rules (and common sense) require a logo and a clear Call to Action (CTA) on the last frame of your ad. On most networks, all animations:

  • must stop after 30 seconds and
  • the number of frames per second (fps) should be 5 or lower.

You will save valuable time if you double-check the specs of the network you are publishing in.

STATIC VS. ANIMATED BANNER ADS

From a design perspective, it might be little obvious why animated banner ads stand out more than static ones. Animations give more freedom to advertisers and designers to arrange the content and transmit their branding in a smoother way. Studies have proven that animated ads have higher CTR and impression rates than statics. Even simple transitions between the messaging can help your audience digest more content in an easier way. Besides being more effective, animated ads are more likely to catch the eye of the viewer than static banners because they resemble a traditional TV and look less like SPAM.

Studies have proven that animated ads have higher CTR and impression rates than statics. Even simple transitions between messages can help your audience digest more content in an easier way. Besides being more effective, animated ads are more likely to catch the eye of the viewer than static banners because they resemble a traditional TV and look less like SPAM.

So, are there any advantages of using static ads nowadays?

HELL YES!

Static banners ads often save a lot of file size because of their simplicity, which can be used to run higher quality images and photos. Some websites even have a 40 or 50 KB file size limit, which is even lower than the standard 150 KB limit, making static ads necessary in some cases.

Beating the 150 KB Limit

If you have worked with any display ads before, you’ll know that this is way harder than it sounds. Cramming a 10-second animation with colors into a 150 KB file without losing a lot of your resolution can be a challenging task.

Many great banner ads get either scrapped or displayed in a very low quality because of this, but there are a couple of steps we can take to avoid these situations.

  • Start Big

    Start with the biggest size first and check if it’s possible to downsize to 150 KB without losing a lot of quality. If your biggest size meets the requirements, all the smaller sizes will do as well.

  • Remove Unnecessary Frames

    Start with a frame rate of 5-8 frames per second, create your display ad, and then make sure to remove all frames that you can, especially frames that are repeated or unused and replace them with a frame delay.

  • Reduce the Number of Colors

    Manually subtract the number of colors in your ad. You don’t have to stick with either 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 or 256; you can manually type any number that suits your project the most.

  • Lossy Settings

    Experiment with the Lossy settings. If it comes down to the last resources, play with the lossy settings on the export tab. On some occasions, changing the lossy settings from 0% to 10% will do little-to-no damage to the quality of the banner while freeing up valuable space.

    However, there are times in which little manipulation of the lossy settings severely affects the quality of the image with little impact on the file size, so it’s important to test these settings to maximize results.

The Future of Banner Ads

Traditionally, GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) have been the most used format for Display ads. They are relatively easy to produce and offer a lot of options for graphics, animations and transitions.

However, HTML5 banner ads are most likely to be the ideal format for display ads in the near future. Though harder to produce (advanced coding skills required) and have limited options for creativity, HTML Display ads have a lot of benefits when executed properly.

HTML banners offer tracking and responsive settings. These allow advertisers to:

  1. Evaluate the consumer’s behavior with the ad
  2. Deploy their ads on multiple screens without worrying or fixating on one size.

File size is less of a concern because HTML files are text files which are pretty light – even with a couple of images attached. Another bonus is a higher file size maximum, which is 1 MB for one ZIP file with all your contents. As a result, HTML ads offer higher resolution than GIFs, especially in smaller sizes.

banner ads, google web designer, adobe animate, flexitive, html 5,

These days, there are many tools that designers and developers can use to create HTML ads. Google Web Designer (Free) and Adobe Animate (formerly known as Adobe Flash) are two of the most common and easy to use banner building platforms. Flexitive is an interesting tool as well, it doesn’t require coding or design skills at all and it has a good template library. Both Animate and Flexitive require monthly subscriptions but offer free trials.

Primary Focus

The most important thing to know about display ads is that no matter what resources, techniques, or tools you choose to use, Display Ads should be an extension of a bigger online campaign.

If done correctly, the campaign isn’t contingent upon beautiful ads as much as they are on effectively meeting your market’s unmet needs. The aesthetics of the ad should only serve to support the true job of the ad, not overshadow or replace it.

Dive in deeper to learn more about these foundational aspects by reading our post on Jobs to Be Done Theory.

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