Display ads are one of the most popular forms of digital advertising today. A display ad is a graphic advertisement found on internet websites, apps or social media through banners or other advertising formats made of text, images, flash, video and audio. It is possible to take on digital ad design yourself, but you may find it to be more beneficial to hire a professional as it will save you time and energy. Even though you are spending money upfront to hire a designer, you may still see a higher return on investment thanks to a professional’s knowledge and skills in creating the most effective digital ad designs for your brand. You will also have peace of mind knowing that your digital advertising design efforts are in good hands.

Here is a list of best practices you should expect from your digital ad designer:

Follow Standard Banner Sizes

According to Google, certain ad sizes consistently outperform others and complement page layouts better, thus resulting in better performance metrics. Some of the top performing display ad sizes include:

  • 728×90: The leaderboard. Ideal for ads placed above the main content or on forum sites.
  • 300×600: The half page. Ample space for messaging and visual elements.
  • 300×250: The medium rectangle. Ideal for ads embedded within text blocks, sidebars or at the end of articles.
  • 336×280: The large rectangle. Ideal for display within text blocks or at the ends of articles.

These large ads can perform very well when placed on web pages with relevant content. It is best to stick to these standards if you are new to display ad design. Once you understand how ads work, you can begin to play around with changing the design or ignoring size suggestions altogether while creating native ads.

Keep it Simple

It can be tempting to want to include as much information as possible on your ad. However, display ads are generally only viewed for a few seconds before the user moves on. Not to mention that you are competing with the content that the user actually came to see. This is why it is important to keep your ad content compelling, concise and clear so that you can grab the reader’s attention as quickly as possible.

Your display ads should only include these necessary factors:

  • Your brand: Be sure to include your company logo, along with other visual elements such as fonts, colors and imagery that are consistent with your brand.
  • A single, focused headline: This is essentially your value proposition. What are you offering and how will it benefit your potential customers? Always advertise the benefit you provide to your customer rather than a simple description of your services. You only get a few words to make impression with a display ad so use them to show how valuable your business will be to a customer.
  • A clear, compelling CTA: Indicate exactly what you want potential customers to do next with an obvious call-to-action. Ask your customers to get a quote, schedule an appointment or download a project guide with the touch of a button.
  • A single, eye-catching visual: This is usually the first element that grabs your audience’s attention so make sure it is relevant and high quality.

Use High-Quality Imagery

Imagery is an important element in display ads because it establishes visual interest and can be used to create ads that are eye-catching and memorable. Images should be relevant to the product or service and enhance the overall message. Try to avoid images that are abstract or visually complex. You want to make sure that your imagery is easily digestible as your ads will only be viewed for a short moment. Use images that your audience can relate to and speak to their needs.

Photographic or animated imagery is not needed for all display ads. Sometimes, bold colors and fonts are enough to effectively get the message across.

Use Frames or Borders

People are naturally drawn to images inside of boxes. It is a best practice to include at least a small line outlining your ads, especially if your ad has a white or light-colored background. Be sure to test multiple frame sizes and colors to determine which makes the most sense and is the most visually appealing.

Make sure that your ad stands apart from the rest of the content on the page.

Always Spell Check

Though it may seem to go without saying, you should always proofread your ad’s text content and make sure that everything is spelled correctly and reads smoothly. We all have those days when we are rushing to get things done and end up skipping this step. Your ad may be a potential customer’s first impression of you. If your ad has typos, it can make your business look lazy and unprofessional causing you to lose credibility.




The best practices listed are simply guidelines to help you produce highly effective ads. Simply going through and checking off all these elements will not always necessarily work for your marketing campaign or overall brand. Use A/B testing to try out different ad copies, backgrounds, images and calls to action to gain insight on what works best for you.

Read more about developing a digital ad strategy for your business in our guide on advertising.

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