13 Expert Tips to Boost Your Display Ad Success: Visibility and Performance

What are Google Display Ads

Google Display ads form an integral part of the Google Display Network, a vast network encompassing over two million websites and applications that display advertisements. These ads, which are paid for, usually manifest as banners on websites, mobile applications, social media, and various other platforms.

Google Display Ads are a type of online advertising provided by Google that allows advertisers to display visual ads (such as image, video, or rich media ads) on a variety of websites and apps across the internet. These ads can appear on websites that are part of the Google Display Network, which includes millions of sites, as well as on Google-owned properties like YouTube and Gmail.

Here’s an example of a display ad on a media site:

Display ads have the potential to reach a vast audience online, and with precise targeting, you can ensure that your ads are seen by the right people. By following best practices for display advertising, you can achieve a significant return on investment (ROI) for your paid campaigns.

To maximize the effectiveness of your display ads, we’ve compiled a set of tips to help you achieve better results from your campaigns.

Display Ad Design and Visuals

To effectively connect with potential customers, prioritize enhancing the design and visual components of your advertisements. This approach not only enhances the ad’s appeal but also addresses the issue of “banner blindness,” where users tend to overlook banners or display ads entirely.

Research conducted in 2023 revealed that banner blindness was observed in 7% to 32% of experiments. This indicates that a notable portion of the audience exposed to your banner ads might not notice them at all. Consequently, the likelihood of them clicking on or converting from the ad is significantly reduced.

Keep Designs Simple

Avoid using overly complex graphics in your display ads. Research from Microsoft Canada indicates that the average human attention span decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds between 2000 and 2015. To capture viewers’ attention quickly, your designs should be simple and easy to understand.

For example, Mailchimp’s ads often feature straightforward images and designs that are visually appealing and quickly draw the viewer’s eye.

To embrace simplicity in your own ads, consider the following tips:

  1. Focus on a single, clear image to convey a single idea efficiently.
  2. Ensure readability by using contrasting colors and negative space effectively to make the message stand out.
  3. Use custom images to create a unique and memorable visual identity for your brand.
  4. Maintain consistency in your imagery to improve brand recognition across different campaigns.

By embracing simplicity in your design approach, you can create display ads that are more effective at capturing and holding viewers’ attention.

Add Your Logo

Utilize your logo in your display ads to maintain brand consistency, which can improve brand recognition and recall among viewers. Incorporating your logo is a best practice that can enhance other aspects of your marketing strategy, including SEO.

For example, if someone repeatedly sees your ads without clicking, they may remember your brand and later search for it online.

Nike is a prime example of a brand that consistently uses its logo in all ads and campaigns, contributing to its global recognition.

However, it’s essential to adhere to Google’s display ad guidelines when using your logo:

  1. Follow accepted logo aspect ratios (e.g., 1:1, 4:1).
  2. Avoid adding extra flair or colorful backgrounds to your logos.
  3. Ensure your logos are high-quality images, properly cropped and adjusted.

By incorporating your logo into your display ads following these guidelines, you can enhance your brand’s visibility and recognition among your target audience.

Use Easy-to-Read Fonts

Choose fonts for your display ad campaigns that are easy to read for all audiences to ensure immediate understanding of the ad’s message.

While there are over 200,000 fonts available, many brands opt for a few familiar ones because they are easy to read on various screen sizes. Some of the best fonts for readability include Georgia, Helvetica, Verdana, Open Sans, and Arial. These fonts are widely used and recognized for their legibility, making them ideal choices for display ads that need to quickly convey information to viewers.

Choose Memorable, Eye-Catching Imagery

When selecting imagery for your display ads, opt for memorable and eye-catching visuals that are relevant to your offer or value proposition. Ensure that the images comply with Google’s guidelines by avoiding misleading or irrelevant content.

For instance, Ridge effectively uses imagery in their banner ad by comparing their slim wallet with a generic competitor’s, visually highlighting the key benefit of their product.

This approach allows viewers to grasp the message quickly, even without reading the text.

Since the brain processes images faster than text, it’s essential to give equal or more prominence to images in your ads compared to text. This can help grab the viewer’s attention and convey your message effectively.

Test Multiple Sizes and Formats

The size of your display ads can significantly impact the performance of your campaigns. According to Google, the top-performing ad sizes are:

  • 728 x 90
  • 336 x 280
  • 300 x 250
  • 300 x 50
  • 160 x 600

These sizes are a good starting point, but you should conduct A/B tests to determine which size works best for your specific use case. Once you’ve chosen the right size, you’ll need to decide on the format:

  • Static ads: Banners that appear in the same size as uploaded
  • Responsive display ads: Ads that adapt to the size of the available ad space

To determine the best format for your campaign, you’ll need to test them. It’s important to adhere to Google’s list of supported ad sizes sorted by pixels.

In addition to size and format, you can also test different ad formats, including banner ads, text ads, interstitial ads, lightbox ads, video ads, and 360-degree video ads. Conducting extensive testing and running competing creatives can help you determine which size and format work best for your target audience.

Test Animated Banners vs. Static Banners

In the banner ad format, you should also consider testing:

  1. Static Images: Standard banners with content that remains static and doesn’t change.
  2. Animated Banners: GIFs or other image formats like HTML5 that include motion, transitions, or other animated content.

Both static and animated banners can be highly effective, depending on factors such as the ad space, the product being promoted, the visuals used, and more.

For example, if you’re promoting a new fruit juicer, an animated banner showing the product in action might be more compelling than a static image.

Ultimately, you’ll need to test these formats to determine which is most effective and cost-effective for your campaigns. Here’s an example of an animated banner ad from the brand COSMEDIX:

Testing different formats can help you understand what resonates best with your audience and drives better results for your campaigns.

Display Ad Messaging

The effectiveness of your display ads hinges significantly on the message and its delivery. A compelling message, when combined with excellent design, has the power to halt a casual scroller in their tracks, increasing the chances of them clicking or converting.

Tailor Your Messaging to Target Your Audience

Align your messaging with the targeting of your ad by creating separate messages for different campaigns, ad groups, and target customers.

Segmentation involves dividing your display ads into different groups based on criteria such as age or location. The more personalized an ad is for a specific audience, the more likely they are to identify with it and convert.

For example, if you’re selling a nutrition and exercise plan to men in their 30s, you might segment your audience based on the websites they visit, such as fitness, recipe, or business websites. Each segment could see a different version of your ad tailored to their interests.

To effectively target different audience segments, consider creating distinct versions of your ads for each segment. For example, you could target fitness websites with a message emphasizing the importance of diet in addition to exercise, while targeting recipe website viewers with information highlighting the importance of exercise alongside a healthy diet.

To define and segment your target audience, you can use tools like Semco’s One2Target. Simply follow these steps:

Navigate to Semco and select “Trends” > “One2Target” from the menu.

Add the websites of up to five competitors to the text box. Click “Analyze”

It gathers information about their audience’s demographics, socioeconomics, and behavior.

Use the insights from One2Target to create comprehensive customer personas and tailor your ads accordingly for each segment in your display ads campaign.

To define and segment your target audience, consider using tools like Semco’s One2Target. This tool gathers information about your competitors’ audience demographics, socioeconomics, and behavior, helping you create comprehensive customer personas for your marketing campaigns.

Communicate a Compelling Value Proposition

Your brand’s value proposition is the promise you make to the viewer of your ad if they accept your offer. The more clearly they understand how you can solve their problem, the more likely they are to click through and convert.

For instance, Investopedia’s banner ad states “Uncover your next adventure,” suggesting that by engaging with their services, customers can achieve memorable experiences from their bucket list. This value proposition goes beyond simply selling products and services; it offers an emotional benefit that resonates with buyers seeking adventure.

Your ad copy should clearly communicate what customers stand to gain from clicking. Examples include:

  • Subscribe now and save 40%
  • Buy now and get free shipping
  • Enroll in our annual plan and save 20% compared to paying monthly

These examples clearly indicate the benefit of clicking through. Your offer doesn’t have to include a discount or special pricing, but it should be persuasive enough to encourage action, whether through limited-time availability, the promise of something new, or another clear benefit of taking action.

Crafting a Compelling Call to Action (CTA)

A powerful call to action (CTA) prompts the viewer to click through and take the desired action suggested by the ad. It should clearly represent the goal that the viewer will achieve after clicking. The action could be:

  • Getting a free trial of a product
  • Downloading a whitepaper, ebook, or other lead magnet
  • Providing their email for later retargeting

To create an eye-catching CTA, consider the following tips:

  • Use action verbs: Start your CTA with verbs like “Get,” “Buy,” or “Download” to prompt immediate action.
  • Provide value: Clearly state the benefit the viewer will receive by clicking, such as “Get my custom plan” or “Show me how.”
  • Start with the imperative verb: Use direct and concise language to convey urgency, such as “Get my free demo” instead of “Your demo is waiting.”
  • Use a striking design: Make the CTA button stand out from the rest of the ad by using a contrasting color, different font, or icon to draw attention.

By incorporating these elements into your CTA, you can create a compelling and effective message that encourages viewers to take action.

Creating Urgency in Your Ads

Incorporating time-based offers can create a sense of urgency among your audience, encouraging them to act quickly as the offer is only available for a limited time.

Research shows that people are more likely to prioritize tasks perceived as urgent, even if they are not inherently important.

To create urgency in your ads, consider the following strategies:

  1. Limited-time offer: Highlight that the offer is available only until a specific date, creating a sense of urgency to act before the deadline.
  2. Limited quantities: Emphasize that the product or service is available only while supplies last, encouraging prompt action to secure the item.
  3. Upcoming price increase: Notify customers that prices will increase in the near future, motivating them to purchase now to lock in the current price.

It’s important to ensure that the urgency is genuine and not fabricated solely for the purpose of increasing conversion rates.

Display Ad Campaign Strategy

Your display ad campaign strategy should focus on converting visitors and ad viewers into paying customers. Clicking on an ad is just the first step in their journey, so it’s crucial to provide them with all the necessary information to make a purchase decision.

Here’s how:

Align Display Ads with Your Landing Page

Ensure that your landing page messaging and design are aligned with your display ads. While the ad’s purpose is to generate clicks or build brand awareness, the landing page’s goal is to convert visitors into customers. For example, if your ad offers a free report, the landing page should provide easy access to that report.

Similarly, if your ad promotes a specific product, the landing page should focus on that product rather than directing users to your homepage. Avoid making users do extra work to find the offer promised in the ad.

Consistency is key in your campaign strategy. If you have a high click-through rate (CTR) but low conversions, it may indicate a disconnect between your ad and landing page. Ensure that the messaging, design, language, and branding of your landing page align with your ad to provide a seamless user experience.

Google considers landing page quality in its ad quality score, which can impact your ad’s performance and cost. A well-aligned landing page can improve your ad’s quality score, potentially reducing your advertising costs.

Align Display Ads with Search Ads

To create an integrated marketing strategy that includes both banner or display ads and Google search ads, consider the following approach:

  1. Purpose of Each Campaign Type: Understand the purpose of each campaign type. Display ads can be used for brand awareness and general awareness, while search ads are more targeted and based on specific search terms.
  2. Combining Display and Search Ads: Use display ads to generate brand or product awareness. For example, a user may see a display ad for a product and later search for it on Google. By running search ads for relevant keywords, you increase the chances of your ad appearing when the user searches for that product.

Here’s an example of a search ad that appears when a user searches for “buy firm mattress online”:

  • Example Scenario: For instance, if a user sees a display ad for H&M’s wide-leg pants and later searches for “wide-leg pants” on Google, they may see a search ad from H&M. This integrated approach can improve brand recall and increase the likelihood of the user clicking on the search ad.
  • Optimizing Campaigns: By integrating display and search ads, you can optimize your search ad campaigns. Users who are exposed to your brand or product through display ads may be more likely to click on your search ads, reducing your overall cost of acquisition (CAC) and improving your marketing performance metrics.

Overall, integrating display and search ads can create a cohesive marketing strategy that increases brand visibility, improves user engagement, and drives conversions.

Use Remarketing

Remarketing, also known as retargeting, involves targeting users with ads based on their past behavior, such as visiting your website or viewing specific pages.

By retargeting these users, you can increase brand exposure and target potential customers who are already familiar with your brand, potentially improving campaign performance and ROI.

When you run a retargeting campaign, you have more information about the potential customer you’re targeting, as they have already shown interest in your product or service. This allows you to tailor your messaging, value propositions, and offers to appeal to that specific segment of your audience, making your campaigns more effective.

Consider AI Ad Generation

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has revolutionized the way marketers create, analyze, and optimize ads. By leveraging AI, marketers can streamline their workflow, produce graphics and copy more efficiently, personalize campaigns, optimize ad spending, and deliver more relevant content to target audiences.

For example, tools like AdCreative.ai in the Semco App Center can generate hundreds of optimized ads tailored to specific display sizes and platforms with just a few prompts.

This eliminates the manual effort and time typically required to create ad graphics and copy.

Overall, AI-powered tools have the potential to enhance marketing strategies, improve customer experiences, and drive better results in advertising efforts.

See What’s Working in Your Industry

Display ads are indeed a powerful marketing channel that can drive immediate ROI when executed correctly. However, it’s crucial to follow best practices to ensure success and avoid wasting your ad budget.

Conducting competitive analysis using tools like AdClarity can provide valuable insights into what works in your market, helping you optimize your campaigns for maximum impact.

By leveraging these best practices and insights, you can create display ad campaigns that ignite your business and drive significant revenue.