It's easy to ignore banner ads. Here is how to make yours stand out and increase clickthrough rates
Online ads have become an inseparable part of our internet life. An average person is exposed to more than 1700 online ads every month and 77 percent are left unseen, resulting in low ad CTRs even if a click isn't essential to making an online ad effective. Some ads are too stuffed with information and visuals, others don’t seem to be relevant to you and some just lead to thoughts like “what is this ad even about?”
To maximize the effectiveness of your ads and avoid falling into one of those categories, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when creating your ads.
Humans are very curious species. It’s natural for us to get curious about things that carry a certain intrigue in them. When creating ads, think of headlines and messages that will make consumers curious about your message. Use words like: forbidden, hidden, censored, concealed, backdoor, banned, confidential, etc.
Curiosity is most powerful when combined with behavioral marketing. By knowing what your target audience is interested in, you can create ads that are relevant for their needs, which also evoke curiosity. This basically doubles your chances that the consumer would click on your ad. Simple phrases like “How to…” can be useful as well. Sometimes people just need to know something, and it’s a good idea to present them what they want in the simplest way possible.
Also, using contradictions in your messages can be very effective. Tell people something that they do not expect (but make sure what you say is true). Here are a few examples:
- “How to unveil hidden problems that are holding your business back today”
- “How I became CEO of company X, with no university degree”
- “Website traffic is not the most important thing for your business”
State the benefits clearly
Consumers are always focused on themselves. When they get an offer or see an ad, the first thing that crosses their mind is “what’s in it for me?” This is the top priority question that your ad has to answer clearly. If the answer isn’t there, (in every frame if it's animated) chances are high that people will just scroll by your ad.
Generally, it’s a good idea to construct your headline in a way that either offers an immediate solution to a problem (How to increase social media traffic by X% in Y weeks) or gives an understanding that by clicking your ad, the consumer will find valuable content behind it (Find out how you can turn your most unhappy customers into loyal followers).
You should also clearly explain the "Reasons to click" and the CTA should be present for every frame.
Use emotional messages
Emotions are the most powerful psychological triggers that drive consumer behavior. If you want to make your ads more clickable, using emotional content in the right context can be a great way to achieve that goal.
Because every industry is different, emotional content will vary from ad to ad. Plutchik’s wheel of emotions shows some of the basic emotions and combinations that can be achieved by pairing together two or more emotions. Using these combinations smartly and evoking the right emotions (anticipation, joy, surprise) can lead to incredible results.
Another thing to keep in mind is that people make decisions emotionally (including buying decisions) and later use logic to justify their decisions. Put yourself into your consumer’ shoes and think what message would make you emotional enough to click on it.
Keep it Simple
When it comes to the design of your ads, simplicity is your best friend. Your ad must be interesting enough to capture the consumer’s attention, yet also simple enough so that the consumer can understand the ad right from the first seconds of seeing it.
In my opinion, based on working with many advertisers to get the best result, there are four essential elements that must be present in any ad design:
- 1. Picture/image/visual – gives the ad visual appeal and can be used contextually to deliver an “unspoken” message to add to your headline
- 2. Message/headline – What you want to tell the consumer to make him or her take action and click
- 3. Call to action – Tell the consumers where to click/what they will get when they click
- 4. Brand/company logo – Your brand or company logo to ensure that the ad is not spam or scam
Note that only one of each component is needed. The more stuff you try to put into your ad, the more confusing it will become. Your ads need to have a single purpose: grab attention and make consumers click them. Other messages/information/value should be delivered later, after consumers click the ad.
In many cases today, common practice are for the ads to be static so that 1 to 4 to be continuously prominent. Animated ads are still used, but much less than before since in most cases people won't sit to watch an ad, unless it's a frame in an extendable banner.
Lastly, you need to keep testing your ads. A/B testing is a very effective way to understand which ads work for your target audience and which keep getting neglected. Consumer behavior is always changing and to keep up with it, you must be on a constant look out for shifts in their habits and adapt accordingly.
A lot of people think that online ads are history and people aren’t interested in them anymore, but that’s far from the truth. Advertising still works, it has just evolved and became more complex, because consumer behavior has evolved too. You need to make sure to keep up with the evolutions and create ads that resonate with your consumers and do not get lost in the bottomless ocean of the web.