5 design principles to perfect your display ad campaign

Approximately 24% of internet users in New Zealand use an ad blocker, according to PageFair[1], with this number set to rise as Google Chrome's built-in ad blocker comes into effect this July. Users and browsers alike are cracking down on annoying and irrelevant ads, so mastering the design of your banners for maximum impact is more important than ever.

In this article, we'll break down five design principles crucial to the performance of your display ad campaign.

1. Adaptability

Think about how your audience engages with content online. This will help to determine the kinds of ads you're choosing and where you display them, which is particularly crucial with the rise of mobile traffic. At realestate.co.nz we usually see just over half of all our site traffic coming from mobile device users each month. As such, you need to consider how your ads appear on both desktop and mobile.

Display ads need to be resized and adapted for each different device they'll be shown on to ensure they communicate their message clearly and do not detract from your brand. Responsive advertising options are also growing, saving you the time needed to produce different ad sizes. With the rise of mobile traffic, designing for different devices is more critical than ever.

Couple looking at phone together

2. Structure

It's important to get the layout of your ad right to communicate quickly and effectively. Any display ad will typically have four key elements, listed below according to hierarchy:

  1. Value proposition
  2. Call-to-action (CTA)
  3. Branding (logo or company name)
  4. Imagery

Your value proposition and CTA together tell your audience what you have to offer them and how they can get it. These need to have greater visual weight in your design to attract a user's attention and instruct them on the next step you'd like them to take. Meanwhile, your company branding will help to build trust and recognition as users can learn who they're dealing with before they click.

Finally, imagery should reinforce the message of your ad but not overwhelm it. It should be eye-catching and relevant, but unobtrusive.

3. Clarity and simplicity

Simplicity is vital in creating a clear and impactful display ad. Visual clarity comes down to maintaining straightforward typography, colour and imagery in your ad.

  • Typography: Text should be in a legible and consistent typeface. Choosing light, cursive or multiple fonts can quickly inhibit the audience's ability to focus on your ad. Your text should also be weighted according to the structural hierarchy above.
  • Colour: Keep your palette minimal, focusing on colours that support the tone of your brand. A couple of contrasting colours can help essential information stand out without overwhelming readers.
  • Imagery: As discussed above, imagery should ideally be kept minimal. Avoid overlapping your messaging with images in such a way that it becomes harder to read. Structure and clarity are fundamental to effectively captivating customers with your display ads.

Woman at her laptop

4. Urgency

Urgency compels users to act now, while your ads are still running. Creating urgency generally boils down to creative copy decisions in your CTA.

A strong CTA is an absolute must in any digital advertising, as it instructs users how they can take advantage of any value you're offering. Without a clear CTA, a genuinely interested user may be frustrated or feel misled.

Follow these tips to create a strong CTA:

  • Avoid the obvious: "Click here" goes without saying when displaying ads online, mainly if your CTA is contained in a button.
  • Tell the user what their click means: If your value proposition is a limited-time discount, "Shop now" tells users that clicking through will take them to a page where they can make use of that discount.
  • Follow through: Ensure your landing page matches your CTA. If your CTA says "Shop now" but takes users to a services page, they may quickly bounce away.

5. Recognition

Finally, be consistent across your digital assets within the same campaign and in others.

Employ familiar colour schemes, consistent typography and a clear logo and company name in your display ads. This ensures that even when users don't click, they're more likely to become familiar with your brand, which gradually builds valuable trust.

The same principle should apply to landing pages. If a user clicks through to a landing page with a different visual profile and message than the ad, they may assume they've clicked on the wrong thing or, worse, have been misled.

At the end of the day, your visual design won't have the desired impact if you aren't putting your ads before the right audience. Tap into a captive audience of thousands of New Zealanders by advertising right here on realestate.co.nz.


[1] https://pagefair.com/intel/

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