With the ever-increasing competition for eyeballs, designing effective display ads requires a careful and creative eye to optimize visibility and impact. Unlike digital platforms with one or two sizes, display ad specs are extensive and sometimes challenging to navigate. 

From crafting compelling visuals and messaging to choosing how to reconfigure certain design elements to fit all dimensions, here are some tips for creating display ads that stand out and drive results. 

Make Your Visuals Eye-Catching

Image selection can make or break display ads design. Select high-quality images or graphics that instantly grab attention. Some typical display ad sizes take up a good amount of space, so you don’t want a blurry or low-resolution image to deter a viewer. 

Bright colors, striking contrasts, and compelling visuals can help your ad stand out amidst the clutter. Use a bright or high-contrast color for your CTA button to elevate it from the rest of the ad. 

Include a Strong Call to Action 

Ideally, people will see your ad while browsing, click on it, and then take whatever action you want them to take on an external page (e.g., donating, downloading an app, etc.). However, research into consumer decision-making shows that it takes an average of seven touchpoints before someone makes a “purchase.”  

Realistically, not everyone will engage with your ad at that moment—so you want to make this impression count.

A clear message that they can immediately comprehend increases the likelihood of them, if interested, searching for it later.  

Find Ways to Personalize Creative 

Fundraisers and marketers know the importance of personalization. In the display landscape, this doesn’t mean using a <First Name> merge field. Instead, this is accomplished with imagery. For instance, when targeting people in a specific region, you can use a well-known local landmark or scenic area that builds a hometown connection.

Another example is personalizing based on interest targeting. If you’re a PBS affiliate station targeting drama lovers, you wouldn’t show them the creative you made for science or cooking programming. Ensure the art matches your audience and their interests.

Stay Consistent with Your Brand 

Ensure consistency with your brand’s visual identity, including colors, fonts, and logo placement. NextGen client toolbox includes logos (color, white, horizontal, and stacked) along with hex codes for brand colors. Consistent branding helps reinforce style-guide best practices, brand recognition, and viewer trust. 

Adjust for Different Placements 

While the overall messaging and branding should remain consistent, adjustments are often necessary to ensure optimal visibility and engagement. Skinny horizontal banners cannot feature everything that leaderboard banners do. 

With larger dimensions, you have more space to showcase visually compelling imagery or graphics. Use this space to your advantage by selecting high-quality visuals that command attention and reinforce your brand message.  

In smaller ad formats, simplicity is key. Clean and straightforward visuals are easier to digest, especially at a glance. Avoid cluttering the ad with unnecessary details that may get lost in the limited space. Focus on the key elements of the ad that get the message across, and never eliminate the CTA when consolidating designs. 

Include Animation and Interactivity 

HTML5 ads are a way to grab attention with some extra “flare.” Incorporating subtle animations can enhance engagement. While someone is reading an article, brief movement in the corner of their eye can draw their attention. 

Let NextGen Help 

Looking to add display to your digital channel mix or improve your creative? NextGen can provide everything from creative ideation and design to audience segmentation and retargeting. Contact us to learn more.