In this article, we will review the different components that make a banner design GREAT. How do you know when you have done a good job? Great banners are impactful and gather high CTR from your target audience.

This article is part of a series of articles for founders, marketers, and anyone interested in the display advertising world. If you need to market your product or service you've come to the right place.

You can read the previous article of this series "Best Performing Ad Sizes in 2020"which covers examples of ad sizes, how to maximize their effectiveness and explain which ones you should use for the highest ROI.

Why design is important in advertising

Banner design is a big part of an effective display advertising campaign. Each ad is effecting when key elements of the ad are implemented. Things such as:

You will be coming up with these elements to create and optimize a great banner. In this article you will understand that great design comes after understanding all of the elements involved in banner design. Your promotional message and captures your audience’s interest.

Branding guidelines & color choices

As you are probably aware consistent branding is one of the most important elements of advertising. Brand consistency allows you to create a sense of belonging. As your brand grows more people will recognize it, consistency in branding allows your brand to be visible amongst the hundred of thousands of brands out there.

As an example, Netflix, the world-known streaming service, has excellently combined their brand in all its banner marketing efforts. Their advertising banners are on-brand and are very direct and concise. Visually they look just perfect. Netflix targets its audience on desktop, mobile, and TV with these ads by promoting their shows current and upcoming to entice trials and sign-ups to its platform.

Netflix Display banners – Moat.com


As another example Starbucks have a solid branding guideline, but seasonal color schemes. Throughout the year, the green and white colors change. - while during late November and early December their ads will look Red and White and Green.

Starbucks Display banners – Moat.com
All of the elements featured in your ad should come together to support the overall brand and brand identity.

Every company is different and therefore everyone holds the key to a secret formula. It all begins with brand guidelines and consistency. To generate the perfect banner, you can rely on good design and marketing understanding to produce something that will awaken interest and elicit a click in your target audience.

Content Hierarchy & Message

Messaging is very important: using simple and powerful copy helps you convey the message best over complicated content. Promoting a new product? Running a flash sale? Or trying to raise awareness of your brand? Once you know the subject of your promotion, you can work on clear and effective messaging. Less is more.

Intercom, Slack, and Soylent Display banners – Moat.com
You typically have under 3 seconds to make an impression on the average viewer.

Another good way to test the efficacy of your ads is to do the mom test. A test crafted to see if your ad is good enough or if it needs refinement. You can also do the 3-second test. Flashing your ad in front of an audience for 3 seconds and then immediately asking a few target questions about the offer and product advertised: you will be amazed how hard this gets especially when showing multiple ads at once in a page with text.

Pictures that work for your brand and content

Less is more when it comes to including imagery in your ads. Just like your content, you should remain light: that means only use ONE image per banner. Our recommendation is to pick either one great background picture (on Unsplash for example) or carefully select high-resolution products.

A great example is Nike: here we have a single product and focal point but the ad still delivers a solid message while looking neat and professional.

Nike Display banners – Moat.com

Choose a Call to Action

Choosing a call to action that resonates with your audience is the key to getting a high conversion rate. Most importantly, it needs to match the marketing lifecycle stage of your customer. We’ve discussed marketing  lifecycle stages in this article.

This will make the ad resonate with your audience’s intent: people don’t just hit the buy now button, it’s better to introduce them to your brand first, so a “Learn More” CTA is most times more interesting. If they hit the learn more, you can re-target the audience that visited your landing page. At this point with re-targeted ads, “Buy Now” as a CTA makes sense.

Most importantly, writing an effective copy for a CTA is an art. Hire a copywriter!

It’s not enough to say “Buy now!” and expect customers to just make a purchase off that. Your customers need to know what they are getting themselves into after clicking the button. Therefore your CTA should define the action and consequence and be visually easy to spot: using powerful contrasting colors, larger in size, and picking a good font will take you far.

We discussed the importance of using the right CTA for the right step of the funnel. Here are a few examples of CTAs used at particular stages of a standard sales funnel:

  • Awareness stage – educating the audience – “Download a free eBook”, “Read more on our blog”, “Learn more”
  • Interest/Evaluation stage – positioning the product/service as a good solution for potential customers – “Register for a webinar”, "Request a demo"
  • Action/Purchase – making sure that people buy from you and not your competition – “Register for free today”, “Get your membership.”

Solving the misconceptions

The opinions of advertisers on digital ads vary but the truth is...there is a science behind the ad-making process. Embracing a data-driven design process is the best way to increase conversions and get better results. Using a rigorous design and testing process will enable your marketing strategy to become sharper. Today, marketers use data, design systems, image editing software, copywriters and expensive graphic artists to create advertising graphics. These processes are long and expensive.

Generating 1 banner costs on average $200. Is this process worth all this money, considering viewers spend 3 seconds on your ads max?

At Abyssale our vision is to enable you to test your banners at scale and improve your ROAS by automating the design task and generating ad-banners with the ease of 1 click.

Iterate, iterate, iterate, pick a winning ad, spend your budget on your winners!