Design Great Display Ads That Get Clicks

Display ads are a huge tool for generating traffic. Learn how to design awesome display ads to increase your web traffic!

Jay Perlman

Getting people to a website can feel like herding cats: difficult, directionless, and at times, chaotic. Additionally, with so many different options for marketing, and tons of competition vying for the attention of the target audience, getting that desirable web traffic can seem overwhelming.

Despite the obstacles of attracting precious eyeballs to your landing pages, there is a super effective method that can drive a steady flow of website traffic: great display ads.

Ads 101: What Are Display Ads?

For a refresher, display ads are a form of digital marketing that uses illustrations, graphics, text, video, and audio. Display ads will appear on websites, apps, and social media in the form of different little boxes and rectangles.

ads display design instagram
Ad design made with the Squiggles illustration collection by Pablo Stanley

While some of the most recognizable forms of display advertisement come via Facebook ads and Google ads, they aren't just limited to those two tech giants. In reality the display ad industry as a whole is a massive 150 BILLION(!!!) dollar industry. To go even further, according to Bannerflow, worldwide display advertising is expected to grow by 18.5% in this upcoming year.

With those mind-boggling stats, it's safe to say that there's a fair amount of competition when it comes to display ads. That's because effective display ads can be game-changing for a website, product, or brand.

Here are just a few of the things that can be accomplished with display advertisement:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Retarget former users
  • Ignite those first little sparks of product or brand interest
  • Convert those eyeballs into dolla dolla billz! Or in basic marketing terms, make a conversion.

Of course, an effective display ad is also a well-designed display ad, so let's jump to the basics on how to design one that gets those delightful clicks.

The Basics of Display Ad Design

There are a couple of things that are super-crucial to know when designing an awesome display ad that generates more traffic than a city stoplight. These basics will help set a direction and structure for the design process.

1. Dimensions

There are different types of dimensions or banners that display ads generally come in. Here are the most typical formats:

  • 728×90px — Leaderboard
  • 300×600px — Half Page
  • 300×250px — Medium Rectangle
  • 336×280px — Large Rectangle

According to Google's guide to display ads, these are the most effective dimensions. Choosing a dimension will determine the layout of your display ad design. Later on, when getting into the nitty-gritty of the actual illustrations and other design elements, this will prove to be extremely helpful for coming up with the perfect visual composition.

2. Structure

Because display ads are banners that are featured alongside web page content, having a clearly defined structure is another super-important element for getting quality clicks. In other words, display ads should stand out from the content on the webpage, app, or social media page.

So once there is a banner size in mind, the next important thing to consider is what must be included in one of these banners to create a good structure that invites potential users to click on the ad.

According to Brad Smith of The Wordstream Blog, here are the elements of the display add that should be included when considering the structure a well-rounded ad that gets boat loads of clicks:

  • Company logo
  • The value proposition
  • An image or an awesome doodle (obviously)
  • A CTA (Call To Action button)
ads display dimensions format illustrations
Ad designed using Croods illustrations

How these are placed within the composition may not seem like something of big importance, but it's actually a key to designing a quality ad. That is to say, the banners should not be a jumbled mess of logo, text, and CTA, but instead they should be carefully placed in optimal spots.

From a user's perspective, a display ad should have readable value proposition, a logo that is noticeable but not too big or distracting, and a CTA that is clearly begging to be clicked on.

3. Color

Color plays a multi-purpose role when it comes to display advertisement. First, it's important to consider the psychology of the potential user or customer: How do they feel? What's their mood like? How does this display ad relate to their problem? Considering this will help determine the color scheme of your display ad.

For a quick little lesson in picking colors to evoke certain moods, check out these psychologist-backed examples:

Knowing the mood of the customer helps determine the design of the display ad. Everything from the brand identity, to the color of the CTA button, will largely be determined by the color selection.

display ads color structure illustrations
Ad designed using Cool Kids illustrations

But wait! It's not just color that matters, but also the contrast of those colors!

Contrast of colors is important to consider when creating your advertisement. More specifically, the CTA button should be distinguishable from the rest of the design. This makes sense, because if people can't see a CTA, how in the heck are they going to click it?

So like choosing colors for a brand, choosing the right set of hues will target and shape how the audience feels, which can be the key to a sky high CTR.

4. Your Ad Size Matters

Just like with an onboarding process or awesome UI, being creative with illustrations can do wonders for display ads. The difference with banners, however is the size of the canvas that's available to work with.

Display ads are small, like, 150 KB type of small... That is mega-tiny! Because of this, spacing is super-crucial when planning the composition of a banner.

The imagery should not be overly complicated. That is to say, unlike many other creative projects, banners should not be stuffed to the gills with too many doodles, images or graphics. Instead, when using a doodle on one of these small banners, they should be compliment the other parts of the display ad structure, rather than telling an entire narrative.

So when designing a quality banner, make sure to be light with the doodles, illustrations, or any other type of graphic. Doing this will ensure a few things:

  • Quicker loading time (which means the audiences will see the advertisement faster)
  • Balance the design
  • Set a tone for the ad without overwhelming the composition
  • Bring some visual flair to what is being advertised
  • Entice even MORE eyes, which of course will lead to more clicks

So find that perfect little doodle to bring just the right amount of excitement that a banner needs!

5. File Type Matters Too

Flash ads used to be all the rage, but now that Flash is dead, image file formats are the way to go when designing a banner ad. That means working with JPG, GIF, HTML5, OR you could be using unlimited high resolution customizable illustrations in PNG format (hint hint, wink wink).

Knowing that there are endless opportunities to make the perfect illustration for a tiny display ad, taking the time to make the ideal doodle to compliment the copy, logo, and CTA is well worth the effort.

Display Ads Examples from Top Companies

Sometimes it takes a moment to get the ball rolling on your ad designs and that's okay! Drumming up inspiration for something that's important for your web traffic can be tough. To get those creative juices flowing, check out how these companies and brands are illustrating their display ads.

1. Headspace

It's hard to miss these cheerful and uplifting little banners. Headspace draws clicks in with use of colors, composition, and the overall story of relieving stress.

headspace ads design inspiration
Headspace uses bright and colorful illustrations

2. Skillshare

Skillshare display ads pop with creativity. Just looking at blend of hues, copy, and messaging gives you pause. In addition, these are great examples of display ads with lots of elements in a small canvas.

skillshare education ads design inspiration
Skillshare uses different design styles to grab their potential users' attention

3. WeTransfer

Here, the use of abstract doodles and simple copy does a great job of creating intrigue while still conveying the overall message. Plus, their use of colors stands apart from more traditional color pairings.

wetransfer app tech ads design inspiration
WeTransfer highlights the benefits of their product in just a few words

Start Getting Clicks with Awesome Display Ads!

The tools and methods are available to anyone who is working on banner ads. Blush is here to help make the design of these ads absolutely dope, and extra clickable!

Take the time to study the important elements of creating one of these small but potent advertisements, and get ready to start seeing some serious changes with website traffic, because done the right way, a small banner can make a huge difference!

Are you looking to design beautiful ads? Have you used Blush illustrations to get your product some of those juicy metrics? Tell us about it! Tweet at us to show us your tiny advertisements, or use the tag #madewithblush

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