MedBanner Banner Exchange Member Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 2
Banner Design that Works
Listed below are our team's suggestions on effective banner design. These tips are based on our team's experience managing and monitoring hundreds of advertising campaigns over the past five years. We hope you find this information useful.
You don't have to be an expert designer to create high-performing ads. Some basic knowledge of design tools like Photoshop® and ImageReady® will do. At the end of this article you can find links to online tutorials for these software packages.
- Make your message short & simple
- Make a message readable
Internet users do not come to websites to look at banners. The best that you can hope for is a user's cursory glance at your ad as the user looks through the site's content. You have only a fraction of a second to grab the user's attention with your message. Therefore it should be short and simple.
- Use high contrast colors
- Use simple fonts
- Empty Space is good
Black and white are the two colors that provide the highest color contrast.
Don't distract the reader with fonts that are too small or headlines that are too big. Do not use many different fonts in a single banner.
Empty area helps focus the viewer's attention on the parts of your banner where the main message is located.
Simple banners with black text over white or transparent background and part of the text looking as blue underlined links often generate excellent click-through rates (which range from 0.5% to 1.7%). Once we witnessed such banner to have a click-through rate of 2.8% - Compare this to an industry-average click-through rate of 0.4%! This is largely due to the banner's mirroring the sites' content, which is what attracts the visitor. We recommend designing many such banners. These are the easiest and fastest to produce.
To make a longer text message intelligible, you could make it appear over multiple animated gif frames. Parsing it into individual words or phrases can also make a long message more effective. Multiple frames can also be used to pace the viewer through the text.
Graphics should underscore the benefits (or the most important benefit per banner) of your site, product or service. Every component of graphics should contribute to your message. Use a metaphor, an association or even a cliché to relate a point. This is more difficult from a design point of view than text.
(See also: "Stay away from: Graphics for the sake of graphics")
In past campaigns, users reacted positively to pictures of people. People are social animals. They are naturally interested in other people. Leverage this by placing photographs on some of your banners.
You should plan for a 3-4 second time limit for a loop when animating a banner. Otherwise you're overestimating the interest and patience of the viewer. You want to strike a perfect balance between too lengthy (which risks losing the viewer's interest) and too short (thus preventing the message from being understood).
People click on a banner, and want to go directly to the web page that has the desired information. If that piece of information is not on the homepage, visitors may give up and exit before locating the information.
Determining the most effective banner design for your business necessitates testing. This requires running a banner over a period of time and measuring the results (i.e. CTRs and/or resulting sales). Make banners with radically different ideas, text and design. After testing you can create more banners using the successful ideas.
Do you remember those popular TV commercials? The appeal was great, but you couldn't understand what they were trying to sell. This problem is far more prevalent with some banner ads: Unless the banner clearly delineates the products, the only way one can discern what company or brand they represent is to click.
Even most effective banners produce only 1-1.5% click-through rates. 99-98.5% of time your banners will not be clicked. Yet they will be seen by tens of thousands of medical professionals. If you mention your site's URL, company's name or logo, many who don't click will nonetheless remember you site's name.
Research conducted independently by AvenueATM and Engage MediaTM showed that about 2/3 of sales are not from clicks, but from people viewing a banner ad, recalling it and then visiting an advertiser's site when they are in a need of the product or service. Your URL or company's name on your banner could triple your new customers as a result of your participation in the Banner Exchange program.
Stay away from:
- Misleading Banners
- Graphics for the sake of graphics
Misleading banners (such as banners imitating WindowsTM error messages, for example) - can get high click-through rates but those clicks will not bring you visitors interested in your product or service.
Don't add any graphic element just because it "looks great". This is what some professional artists often do when they design banners for you. Here you have only 468x60 pixels of space to convey your main selling proposition, capture the user's interest and make him/her click. Any piece of graphics or text, which does not contributes to this, is a waste of this precious space.
Remember! An effective banner design will make the difference between successful and unsuccessful advertising!
Banner Exchange Support Team
© 2004 MedBanner, Inc. All Rights Reserved.