Anywhere the eye can see, it’s likely to see a banner ad… A market research firm revealed in a New York Times article that the average person is exposed to 5,000 ads every day. How can you succeed with display advertising in this noisy landscape?

Some would say it’s a waste to write a complete guide to banner and display advertising today. And some people say it’s more likely you will survive a plane crash or win the lottery than click a banner ad. These claims are often based on data that comes from a poor banner ad strategy. Let me debunk these myths.

How can you create effective banner ads that stand the test of time? In this guide, I’ll walk you through what Google Display Banner Ads is, how to create them, and the best-performing strategies.

What Is a Banner Ad?

Also called “display advertising”  are banner ads that appear in different spaces on websites, magazines, and blogs. They usually come in the form of image, text, or GIFs, and usually appear beside, below, or above an article.

Banner ads are available on many channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google (which is the biggest channel). They’re also called “display advertising”, “display ads” and “Google banner ads”. In this article, we’ll talk about the Google Display Network (“GDN” for short);

“When you advertise on the Google Display Network—which has over 2 million sites and reaches over 90% of people on the Internet—your ads can appear across a large collection of websites, mobile apps, and video content.” – Google.

Here are the ad types you can run on the GDN:

It is possible to succeed with display ads

How can you grab attention in the marketplace today? I’ve been asking a few interesting people in my professional network on how to succeed with marketing.

Let’s start with my fellow growth hacking colleague, Steven Macdonald. He was previously Digital Marketing Manager at SuperOffice (recently got acquired for 1B NOK). 

Expert Thought #1: Steven Macdonald

Most marketers use display advertising as a way to build an audience and drive volume, which can then be used for retargeting and sales-driven messaging at a later stage.

I think about display advertising in a different way. Rather than first touch, I think of it as pre-touch marketing. It’s 100% branding. It’s discovery – meaning, the goal of communication (messaging, ad copy, landing page) is to inform the audience of who you are as a brand and what you stand for.

A good example here comes from SuperOffice. The new communication platform is built around the message – relationships matter. And that’s exactly what the new display ad campaigns communicate. They don’t mention CRM software, they don’t mention leads or sales processes. They use “Relationships matter”.

It’s high level, pre-touch marketing attempting to build an audience that cares about business relationships. And that’s the kind of customer they want to attract.

Steven Macdonald | Co-Founder at Kingspoint OU

Effective Banner Ad Examples

At this stage, you’re probably wondering what an effective banner ad looks like…

I will show you that almost every tech giant is using display advertising to acquire users and customers. They not only use banner ads to attract more customers, but they use it to create a better experience on the web.

I’ve done some research on the big ‘five’; Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google. I will show you how they leverage banner ads to build their brand awareness and strengthen their presence.

1. Facebook

Facebook Banner Ad Example



As you can see, Facebook is creating banner ads with a message that caters to human psychology; Human beings are a social species that rely on cooperation to survive. They use messaging such as, “connect with friends” and “connect to the world”. They have a very simple CTA “Sign Up”.


2. Apple


Apple uses simplicity in its design. Short and clear headlines. A simple call to action. Few images. I would say, they have a very standard banner ad: Logo, concise headline, short subtitle, and a CTA.


3. Amazon

Amazon Banner Ad Example

The biggest store in the world uses banner ads to advertise not only their services (like Amazon Prime, Kindle) but also their products. Strong colors, concise headlines, happy faces, and actionable CTA buttons.


4. Netflix



Netflix Banner Ad Examples

What’s the main brand color? Red… Don’t be afraid of using your brand colors. Netflix is very good at branding its service along with specific TV shows. “A Netflix Film” and  “A Netflix Original Series”. People, smashing titles, and release dates. They even A/B-test their banner ads (see The Big Show ads).


5. Google

You don’t have a lot of blank space in the banner ads, but Google even manages the banners to be clean and slick. Title, subtitle, the Google colors (the strong blue), concise call-to-action. Promoting “Free trial” and low-commitment actions.


It’s the same basic principle; They right offer to the right audience. Meaning, you need to convey your message clearly to a defined target audience.

Expert Thought #2: Björn Owen Glad

In today’s crowded media landscape it’s crucial for brands to create value for their audiences. That value can consist of entertainment, knowledge or any kind of help and support. Customers are experts in filtering out crap, and as brands we need to accept that and deliver high quality, creativity and value. Advertisers must use their creativity to tap into peoples minds by becoming a thing worth talking about. Brands who can become popular culture will be popular brands.

As marketers we need to trust the value of our brand, be honest to our audiences and follow our gut feeling. A lot of marketing messages today is too safe, copying what other brands already do, but to be truly successful, brands need to find their own way of meeting the audience.

A good example here comes from SuperOffice. The new communication platform is built around the message – relationships matter. And that’s exactly what the new display ad campaigns communicate. They don’t mention CRM software, they don’t mention leads or sales processes. They use “Relationships matter”.

It’s high level, pre-touch marketing attempting to build an audience that cares about business relationships. And that’s the kind of customer they want to attract.

Björn Owen Glad | Global Brand Manager at Spoon Publishing

Google Banner Ad Sizes & Dimensions

As you probably know, there are a lot of different banner sizes to use in display advertising. However, you do not have to create every single one of them. Adline has a built-in creative studio, which allows you to design a complete set quickly.

Here’s a guide from Google about top-performing ad sizes.

Formats include JPEG, JPG, PNG, GIF, and HTML5.

And here’s the important thing, Google and other networks compress your banner ads to minimum size. That’s why you will experience that the banners that ultimately run, will be in lower quality than when you created it.

But, if you create an HTML5 (an animated banner) with animation, moving buttons, etc., then Google can’t compress it that much. This way, you’ll end up with a higher-quality, eye-catching ad.

Top-performing sizes:
300 x 250 – Medium Rectangle
Other supported dimensions
320 x 50 – Mobile Leaderboard
336 x 280 – Large Rectangle 120 x 600 – Skyscraper
728 x 90 – Leaderboard 160 x 600 – Wide Skyscraper
300 x 600 – Half Page 970 x 90 – Large Leaderboard
320 x 100 – Large Mobile Banner 970 x 250 – Billboard
  250 x 250 – Square
  200 x 200 – Small Square
Google Banner Ad Sizes

Expert Thought #3: 
Lee Odden

There’s really no ‘silver bullet’ for display. There are many factors that play a role in success including having a compelling or unique offer, strong creative, plenty of repeat exposure, a strong brand, and selective targeting on the ad networks. With the right budget, display can be incredibly effective for brand building. Just look at the example of that went from a virtual unknown in the U.S. to being considered one of the top project management tools.

CEO at TopRank Marketing – B2B Marketing Strategist, Author, Keynote Speaker

How to Do Display Advertising Successfully

Brand Awareness Stages

The key to a successful display advertising campaign is to target Eugene Schwartz’s stages of awareness.

In every market, you have those who are unaware. They don’t know anything – perhaps, his/her own identity. Over time, your prospect begins to sense he has a problem – all the way down to most aware; he needs to know “the deal”.

Successful banner advertising follows these stages in 3 steps:

1) Brand awareness campaigns: Here we focus on reach over conversions. The goal is to generate impressions and get people interested in your brand, and possibly learn why you’re important.

2) Acquisition campaigns: In this campaign, you should promote your solutions more and how they solve the audiences’ problems. 

A side note: Banner ads are more invisible than ever before, there’s “banner blindness” and AdBlocker into the picture.

Display advertising works if done correctly, but it’s not for everyone. To measure display advertising, you should look directly at the ROI. Money in, money out.

3) Remarketing campaigns: We use these campaigns to target the prospects that visited your website, but didn’t do any actions. This is where you can get relevant, and this is the type of campaign with the best results across industries.

Brand awareness campaigns are rarely very profitable, and this is exactly where the majority of advertisers burn a lot of cash. Remarketing banners, on the other hand, is much more profitable. This is where we see a lot of companies win. They start with cold Facebook campaigns, and then they retarget the audience that didn’t buy with targeted banner ads.

There are two types of remarketing campaigns:


Different Types of Display Targeting

Offer and creative design is half the display advertising battle. Another influencing factor is targeting. What are the banner targeting options in Google Display Network?

1) Demographic targeting: Gender, age, location, education, and much more. If you know that your target audiences’ have a few commonalities, you can use this one. If not, you should probably go for one of the next options…

2) Psychographic targeting: The most powerful targeting option. What does your audience like and dislike? What are their interests? This is where you can hit your target audience spot on.

3) Contextual targeting: Advertising on websites that have content topics similar to the industry your in. E.g. advertising cybersecurity on an IT magazine is contextual targeting.

4) Placement targeting: Here you can choose manually where you want your ads to be shown. It requires your insight. 

5) Remarketing: I’d say this is the single most powerful targeting option second to psychographic targeting. 

Important note: When using Adline, you’re not able to choose all these targeting options. We use machine learning and algorithms to target your audience so that you don’t have to. Leave all manual work to Adline. You just create epic content.

Expert Thought #4: 
Doug Kessler

Display ads are the toughest creative challenge. So little space, so much noise (not to mention banner blindness and ad blockers). The best banners are often the ones that use design and motion really well to make a great offer—in B2B, that’s usually a content offer. A bit of voice and mojo in the copy can’t hurt. And , of course, never stop testing.

Doug Kessler Creative Director, Co-Founder, Velocity Partners Ltd

Banner Ad Best Practices: The Perfect Design

You can either hire a designer to do the design for you or do it yourself via Adline’s creative studio. Whatever you choose to do, there are a few rules to keep in mind for best performing ads:

1) Simplicity is king

Avoid stuffing the ad with lots of images, content, text, etc. Offer only relevant and specific information about your offer. A banner ad is just an invitation to visit your website.

2) Use Images, Graphics or Illustrations

Demonstrate your product or service through images or illustrations. Yet another way to build brand awareness.

3) A single CTA button

Tell users exactly what to do. To stick out, the CTA should be designed in a contrasting color. CTA stands for Call-To-Action and is used to increase CTR (Click Through Rate).

4) Clear Messaging

Ideally, you should include a primary headline and a subtitle. The copy has to be clear and concise. Try to include your brand promise or your unique selling proposition.


Dedicated Landing Pages

Successful Landing Page Elements

A lot of advertisers still run their ads and all their traffic to the homepage. This probably is the #1 mistake for 99% of all advertisers.

Back to the basics: Show a relevant offer to the right audience at the right time, and you’ve most likely got a sale.

If you’ve done almost everything right: The ad is perfect, you’re showing it to the right audience, but when they click on it and land on an irrelevant landing page, you slam the door in the face of your prospects.

Your landing page should reflect the message and the content in your banner ads.

  1. A primary headline and a supporting subtitle.
  2. A unique selling proposition (USP).
  3. The benefits of your offering (Bullet Points, Checkmarks, etc.).
  4. Images, graphics, or video.
  5. Social proof (testimonials, ratings).
  6. A reinforcement statement.
  7. A closing argument.
  8. A call to action.

Keep a red line from your banner ad all the way to the call to action on your landing page.

Read The 5 Essential Elements of a Winning Landing Page from Unbounce.

Our very own banner ad creator

Adline Banner Ad Creator
Adline Creative Studio – Banner Ad Creator

Do you use Photoshop or Canva for designing banners? Yes… It can be time-consuming to create all the ad sizes and dimensions…

In Adline, we’ve created our very own Creative Studio for banner creation. Armed with a library of images, templates, and graphics, you can bulk create banner ads in all sizes very quickly.

Conclusion: You’re much more likely to click a banner ad than die in a plane crash.

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