The Key to Banner Ad Designs

Posted on September 14, 2017 | Updated on November 29, 2022

If you’re going to place ads and promotional images across the web, you want to plan your method of attack before deploying anything. Why? Because when it comes to marketing and advertising, the number one concern is your ROI, or return on investment. If you’re spending a great deal of money to have excellent placement of web banner ad designs, but it’s not boosting conversions, increasing engagement or having a positive effect on your traffic, then it’s a complete waste.

You’d think investing in web banners and similar ads would provide an automatic boost, but that’s not always the case. There are several factors that determine whether or not your content is going to be effective. For example, audience and channel play a huge role. If you place your ad on a channel that doesn’t match your own goals and target an audience that has no interest in your products or services, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

The Role of Banner Ad Designs

It involves the creation of effective and optimized web banner ads that follow a set of basic design guidelines and strategic principles. Considering banner ads are remarkably common and can be found everywhere, you want to make sure yours not only stands out, but also gets placed in front of the right crowds.

Of course, even when it is in front of the right people, you want to ensure its optimized and efficient, so it influences their actions.

Here are 10 ways to make that happen:

1. Proper Placement

Courtesy of Giphy

The key to a successful ad or promotional image is placement. Make sure the content is visible above the fold, yet still relatively close to the main content. If your ad is going to be on a front or landing page, then you’ll want it slightly above the main section. If it’s going to be on a sub-page where evergreen content is displayed, you’ll want it slightly above the main body and header.

Why are these distinctions important? Because proper placement means your image or ad will be in plain view of your audience. It cannot be effective if no one ever views it.

2. Choose the Right Size(s)

There are so many image sizes and resolutions to keep track of today that it’s overwhelming. Facebook and Twitter both, for instance, have their own optimal image sizes. Then there’s Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr and many more.

Those are just the social networks, however. When you consider appropriate ad formats and sizes, there are even more resolutions to worry about.

The best advice we can offer is to follow Google AdSense banner sizes because they are practically universal. Plus, it ensures if you’re using AdSense to get your content visible, your ads will be suitable for the platform already.

These are the most common ad formats:

  • Leaderboard: 728px by 90px
  • Half Page 300px: by 600px
  • Medium Rectangle: 300px by 250px
  • Large Rectangle: 336px by 280px

When in doubt, stick with one of those sizes, and you should be in the clear.

3. You Need a Watermark or Logo

Ads and promotional images serve one purpose, to increase brand awareness. But guess what? If you don’t include your brand’s logo or a visible watermark somewhere in the content, no one will ever know it was you who published it.

The call-to-action is more important and should be more visible, but we’ll get to that below. That said, you never want to create an advert that’s devoid of your brand’s logo or name.

4. Never Forget Your CTA

Courtesy of Giphy

You’re a marketer or designer, and you know a call-to-action is necessary. Either include a button with interactive text or just call out your audience. But don’t forget to make the CTA a focal point of your image or ad.

5. Keep It Visual

Visual content is just more engaging. It’s why social networks are all about it. It’s why mobile apps and platforms are all about it. It’s why you’re never told to publish content without something visual to accompany it.

Skeptical? This massive list of visual marketing stats from Hubspot will tell you everything you need to know.

Any promotional image or ad you decide to host must include something visually engaging.

6. Animation Works

Animated ads and content are ideal, so long as they don’t take away from the core message. In most cases, even just a small amount of animation will draw a viewer’s eyes to the ad or image.

A sizzling burger or steak would be an excellent — and mouth-watering — focus of an animated ad, but you can keep things as simple as you want. A small cursor, visual effect or color change also works just as great.

7. Optimize Your Files

When working with high-resolution images, especially if they are animated or stored as GIFs, the file size can balloon. You want to ensure your images and ads remain relatively small. According to Google, under 150kb is the ideal ad size, and it ensures decent performance across the web. Your content will likely be delivered to mobile users, too, so keep that in mind.

8. Link Appropriately

Courtesy of Giphy

Your banner or ad says something, and you need it to match up with wherever you are sending your visitors. For instance, if your banner offers an exclusive deal, you want to ensure it directs potential customers to the appropriate page where they can take advantage of it.

If your banner promotes a specific app or service you offer, make sure the link takes them to that particular product on your official website.

The entire point here is to link and direct your audience appropriately. You’ll want to make sure your ad matches up with the content or page you are connecting.

9. Always Give Back

What is the value proposition for potential customers? In other words, what are they going to receive in return for engaging with your ad, image or brand? Are you offering them a limited-time or exclusive product? Are you providing a deep sale or discount on all services?

Whatever it is you are offering, make sure you put it in clear, concise words and pay just as much attention to it as the CTA or your brand logo.

A “50% off” tag, for example, should be bold-faced and in large font, just like your CTA.

10. Test and Adapt Your Banner Ad Designs

Courtesy of Giphy

No matter what any marketer or advertiser tells you, they are not perfect, and neither is their track record. Most earn success through repetition and experience. What can this tell you about your banner ad designs?

Testing and adapting to customers and conditions is just as important as creating and deploying the content. Before deploying an ad or promotional image for the long-term, do some focus testing and find out whether or not it’s effective. If you discover that it’s not working the way you intended, you can see what’s wrong with it and make changes.

Ultimately, this ensures your ROI is always active even when you’ve put a considerable amount of time into a project or design.

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at


  1. Stoyan on May 2, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Thanks for sharing, ?xcellent banners. I do myself banner ads in my studio and often need a good Inspiration

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