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5 Banner Ad “Best Practices” That Kill Conversions

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 @ 01:43 PM |


If you’ve spent any time or budget on display advertising, you already know that one of the biggest detriments of a campaign is underperforming creative. And, while there is plenty of advice going around the web about the best practices for creating banner ads, it doesn’t mean much of it is good. And that’s because this advice usually takes a one-size-fits-all approach.

But there are no universal best practices to creating banner ads that convert. Each campaign, as well as each product and brand identity, is unique.

With this in mind, here are 5 banner ad best practices that may be killing your conversions.

Using Bright Colors Will Help You Stand Out and Get ClicksUsing Bright Colors Will Help You Stand Out and Get Clicks

You’ve probably read many an article or blog post that offered statements like “green increases clicks,” or “orange encourages action.” And it’s easy to see why people believe brighter banner colors will draw attention, as most webpages are white, so colorful banners will definitely stand out.

But it’s incredibly rare that any two scenarios will align. One campaign may find a green button beats a red button, yet another campaign may find a yellow button beats a green button. There is no one magic colored button that will create massive conversions.

Takeaway: It’s far more important to stick to your own brand style guidelines than to follow someone else’s rules on what the perfect banner background color is.

If You Want to Boost Banner Performance, Always Use Photos of People

It is usually assumed that ads featuring people will outperform ads that don’t. While a great photo can absolutely attract attention and improve performance, using the wrong photo will typically do more harm than good.

For instance, a consumer brand may experience great success with an ad that features a person using their product. In fact, this is one of the most effective ways to showcase a brand’s offering.

But for B2B businesses, using these types of photos can be very hit or miss.

Takeaway: Don’t follow image rules, just make sure the image you use is relatable and relevant to your market. If your photo helps your customers see themselves gaining value from your product, go for it, but if not, try something else.

You should Rely on CTR Exclusively as a Performance Metric

Just because you invite 200 people to your wedding, doesn’t mean you’ll end up with 200 gifts you’ll love, or even like. While CTR can be a valuable measurement for determining the winner of an A/B test, there is no guarantee those clicks will correlate to conversions. At the end of the day, it’s better to have only 10 clicks with five of them converting, than 200 clicks with only one of them converting.

Also, if the goal of your campaign is branding, then clicks aren’t necessarily a valuable tool. CTR is great for measuring traffic, but when it comes to revenue generated, it is in no way the be-all-end-all.

Takeaway: Success should be measured based on your campaign’s ultimate goal, so don’t get caught up measuring clicks if you’re looking for sales.

You Should Always Use an Urgent Call-to-ActionYou Should Always Use an Urgent Call-to-Action

There’s no denying that every piece of advertising should include a call-to-action. If you want people to click on your banner ad, you’d be wise to include one. But some marketers advise that a call-to-action include a sense of urgency, such as “buy now!” or “only 8 left in stock!”

Now, urgency can definitely get consumers to take action, particularly if the offer is really strong. But with larger purchases like B2B software, gentler calls-to-action like “learn more” or “call for a free demo” can work much better.

Takeaway: Craft your calls-to-action on your specific customer base and your offer’s price tag.

Flash Banners Are More Effective Than Static Banners

There are many marketers who have reported that flash ads significantly outperform static ads. But the punchline is, the measurement used by many marketers is CTR, and as we’ve already discussed, if conversion and revenue is your ultimate goal, then depending on CTR is pointless.

Takeaway: At the end of the day, know what your marketing goals are and do some testing to determine if flash ads outperform static ads.


When it comes to designing and testing banner ads, taking a one-size-fits-all-approach is never a good idea. If your ultimate goal is conversions, then you’ve got to know your offer, know your audience, and test, test, and test some more.

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