How to Design a Great Ad

Filed as Features on February 11, 2008 1:39 pm

Aren’t you bored with all the similar, ho-hum ads that you see on blogs? Do you plan to advertise you site through the purchase of some ad space on a blog? A boring, run of the mill ad just ends up being a bad investment, and considering that blog readers are increasingly ad blind, it’s important to put a good deal of thought into the design of your ad so that you maximize the money you’re spending to buy ad space. Here are some general principles to consider as you design your next ad:

1. Don’t just put the name of your site with maybe a nice little picture. Instead, give the reader a reason to click or a “call to action”. What valuable, not-to-be-missed product or service are they going to learn about on the other side of the ad? Just the name of your site is probably not compelling enough.

2. Don’t use the same colors everyone else is using, or even the same shape. Instead, check out the site(s) you’re considering placing ads on. What colors do the other ads use? Choose a main color that will pop out from the group of ads. Are all the other ads squares? Try rounding the corners, or even going with a more unusual shape.

3. Don’t overload the ad with text. Instead, keep it simple. Clear, concise messages are the best. You do not have much time to grab a reader’s attention as they glance over the ads on a page. Lots of text generally becomes too small to read at a glance, especially on a 125px ad.

4. Don’t bore the reader. Instead, make them curious, surprise them, amuse them, and do anything you can not to be just another average ad. The ad that Text Link Ads has been using that says “Easier than getting Arrington to link to your site” increased their click-thru rate by 1000%, despite the less than attractive picture they used.

5. Don’t put to many steps in the animation or make your ads too “blinky”. Instead, again, keep it simple. You have a reader’s eyes for a fraction of a second, so remember that if you must have animation in your ad. Two steps would be the max I would recommend. If you follow #4 and make them curious with a question, answer it in the next frame. I don’t even allow animated ads on my site, because blinking ads are hard to look at and are distracting as someone is trying to read my content. If a reader is annoyed by your blinking ad, there is little chance they are going to click on it.

What do you think?  Are you ad blind?  What kinds of ads actually get your attention?

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  1. By GoingLikeSixty posted on February 11, 2008 at 2:34 pm
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    Nice job.
    I’ve had good success with blogads.com (delete the name if you don’t want to plug them) and they are ALL text.
    I’m a boomer writing mostly for boomers, so I need a targeted audience. I bought an ad on a financial advice website that is rampant with profanity. I use mild profanity on my site so I invited readers to “cleanse themselves” by visiting my site.

    Points are:
    - well written all text ads on sites that are ad light, can work really well.
    - be true to your blog.
    - it’s not easy. Write and rewrite. Test.
    - you don’t have to spend big bucks if you will settle for growing your blog more slowly.

    BTW: I’m not selling anything at my blog. Just love to watch the numbers climb. Pure ego.

    Reply

  2. By Brett Evans posted on February 11, 2008 at 7:16 pm
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    Also maybe another good point is to put the ad on site that has alot of traffic.

    That usually helps.

    Reply

  3. By Jacob Cass posted on February 13, 2008 at 12:04 am
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    Thanks for this, I have just redesigned a new 125×125 ad for my website that will be soon hosted on http://www.designflavr.com

    Reply

  4. By Daily Common Sense posted on February 16, 2008 at 10:11 am
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    Great tips, thanks

    Reply

  5. By Jacob Share posted on February 18, 2008 at 1:11 am
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    I would add- if you can, adapt the ad for its context. The same ad will work well on one blog, poorly on another.

    Also, choose your ad sizes well. 125×125 works well because our when our eyes focus they capture that banner at a glance. However, a 468×60 banner or skyscraper adds need to be scanned so your message automatically takes more effort to be understood.

    Reply

  6. By Wakish posted on March 9, 2008 at 11:42 pm
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    I thought that the “how to design..” would actually also give us some visual display and steps about how to design the ads..
    Well, “the advice” was cool though..

    - Wakish -

    Reply

  7. By Christy posted on May 20, 2009 at 5:22 pm
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    Great tips! Although they are more for copywriters , but still will work best for designers!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  8. By Bobby posted on November 2, 2009 at 6:40 am
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    I came here from someone recommended about good ad design. I learn much with your tips. Thanks.

    Reply

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