banner ads

An 8-Step Guide to Making Effective Banner Ads

Branding and Design Digital Marketing

banner ads

It’s been 18 years since the first Banner ad graced the top of a webpage, and it is still the most used form of online advertising. Banner ads continue to be a high priority digital tactic for most brands due to measurable results and super specific targeting parameters.

Design is a critical element in the success of any banner ad.  As great as the copy of the ad or the offering being promoted is, it may be overlooked if it’s not displayed effectively. This is a guide to creating banner ads that cut through the noise and clearly state their purpose.

Here is what you need to do-

  • Create a Visual Hierarchy: Creating a visual Hierarchy involves using the visual elements of the banner (content, images buttons etc) in a way that directs the flow of the content, to create an enriching user experience. Most Banner ads have 3 main components.


  1. Branding:  The logo should be incorporated in the ad. Make sure that it is bold, but doesn’t overpower other important elements.
  2. The value proposition: This is the text that derives attention towards the ad, like ‘Limited Offer,’ ’50% off,’ ‘40% Discount.’  It should preferably be bigger than the other text on the ad.
  3. The call to action: This is usually a button with text like Buy now, Click here etc, and is the main element on the banner ad.  This element should be the centre of attention on the ad.


  • Make Your Ads Distinguishable: Your ad should be complimentary to, but also stand out from the background of the website.The worst thing for a banner ad is for it to get lost in the din of other ads on the page. Understand the space where your ad is going to be placed and create a design that stands out. You can do this by using colour schemes that are complimentary to that of the page.Subjects placed inside a frame usually attract more attention. Make sure you place your add inside a crisp border that extends across the edges of the image.  It’s a common practice to put a 1 pixel gray border around the ad, if your ad has a white background.  If it’s not white, you can use subtle borders.


  • Create Well Designed Buttons: There can only be one call-to-action, and it should be simple and bold.Buttons are the most important element on the banner ad.  They are usually used below the value proposition or the ad text, and in contrasting colours. Good choice of combined with effective colour combinations make the button impossible to miss.Tip:  Banners designed to look like videos (with a play button), have the highest CTRs. This helps in promotion videos or other media, provided the user is directed to the corresponding video on the landing page.


  • Get the Text Right: As for text on banner images, less is more. Differentiate between the headline and body using different text sizes, and avoid the use of unclear, curly, script of extremely thin fonts. Don’t use text under 10pt unless including a copyright notice or disclaimer.Choose from a font palette that is consistent with the brand. Make sure the text on the logo is legible.


  • Use Colour to Convey the Message: The use of colour is one of the most important factors is designing a banner ad. Make sure the colours you use communicate the right message for your brand. For example food and beverage related ads use a lot of red, and yellow to convey a sense of hospitality and warmth. On the other hand, corporate brands employ the use of blue, grey etc to convey a sense of orderliness and trust.Bold use of colour can also create a sense of urgency; Web ads may not always be subtle.  Nevertheless, don’t ignore brand guidelines. Pick colours from the brand colour palette, and make sure the ads look consistent to the page that the user is directed to.


  • Keep it Simple: Determine your aim, the kind of communication and your call to action, and stick to them. A user might not glance at an ad for more than a second. Banner ads call for the use of striking designs that leave a lasting impression, given the small window of opportunity.  Sometimes simple but eye catching backgrounds with short taglines that explain the product or value proposition can go a long way.In the end, the most important thing is to keep everything simple. Determine your core purpose, your branding, and your call to action and don’t deviate much further than that. The more you clutter the ad, the more likely you are to estrange and confuse your viewers.


  • Make Your Ad Interactive: Interactive or animated ads perform better than static ads, as long as they don’t deviate from the message. Create simple transitions that don’t last for more than 10-15 seconds, and loop not more than 3 times. Mini-game type interactive ads are engagement focused and are shown to do better than static ads.


  • Choose Appropriate Imagery: Imagery can maximize the impact your ads have on the viewer provided you use them well, and only when needed. But using pictures doesn’t always guarantee results; an unrelated photo won’t support your ad. It is not necessary to always use images in your ads. Even ads with bright artwork and effective use of text can be equally prominent.


  • The bottom line: Keep you banners simple, beautiful, and readable; don’t include any elements that are not strictly necessary. Just keep it simple.



Abhishek is a part of the Ethinos search team and helps client with various search techniques.

Previous Story


Next Story