Marketers have a love/hate relationship to banner ads. On the one hand, they allow us to distribute branded content across multiple channels, but on the other, they deliver frustratingly low click through rates and conversions. So what can we do? Should we just abandon the concept entirely and focus our efforts elsewhere? No, there is no need to pull the plug, but we do have to make a collective effort to put quality back into our campaigns. This is how you create great banner ads:

Create an impactful message

Your message should be clear and go straight to the point. Consumers have to understand it at a single glance. Be careful about the hierarchy of your content. All banner ads should include the following:

  • An impactful message
    What are you offering? What is the value of your offer? I encourage you to be creative with your message and avoid clichés.
  • Logo for branding purposes
    It doesn’t have to be large, but consumers should see it easily so that they know the brand behind the ad. A strong brand creates trust.
  • A CTA
    Encourage the consumers to take action and convert.

HBO is a master at creating great banner ads. Just look at this example, it is short, different and inspires action:


Include a CTA

Allow me to elaborate on the importance of including a CTA. The goal of a banner ad is to get people to click on it. It’s like a preview, enticing the consumer to learn more about your brand or products. You want them to take action, unfortunately, most consumers associate digital ads with viruses and spam.

Your CTA should tell the consumers exactly what will happen if they click on your ad. Will they “learn more,” “watch this” or “download”? An unclear banner ad will hurt the credibility of your brand.


Scale it properly

Although most websites operate with standard formats, it's no longer enough to create 4-6 versions of your campaign. This is about safeguarding your brand. Your banner ad needs to look professional and be properly scaled regardless of the platform, device or screen it is viewed on. And although programmatic buying enables you to distribute your message across channels, it also means you will have to create 30 and even 40 versions of your ad. Time-consuming? Yes! But it's also a vital part of a great banner ad campaign.  

Use video or animation

Feel free to experiment with videos and animations in your ads, but don’t over do it. Noisy and annoying ads will cheapen your brand, and your ad will probably be perceived as spam. Animations should last up to 15 seconds and only loop a couple of times. It can also be a good idea to make the last frame a clear CTA. Your video should auto play (and make sense) without sound.



Make it responsive

Finally, you have to consider the fact that most consumers will watch your ad on a mobile device, which means they should be able to see, click and purchase from your ad while on their phone. According to Dave Chaffey at Smart insights, 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine. In addition, at 8.58% tablet devices account for the highest add-to-cart ratio on e-commerce websites.

Make sure your design is responsive so you can offer value to the consumers regardless of the device they’re using.  

Do you want to learn more about creating and managing digital content? Download the guide we made about dynamic creatives for free: