5 min read

What Every Marketer Should Know About Banner Ad Design

Published on
November 28, 2023
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Leah Camps
Marketing Executive
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Easing Into Banner Ad Design

Effective banner ad design can significantly impact brand visibility and help drive customer engagement. However, creating a banner ad that captivates the audience's attention is no easy feat. It requires a deep understanding of the basics, as well as an exploration of the psychology behind successful designs. In this ultimate guide, we will delve into the various aspects of banner ad design and provide valuable tips to help you create compelling ads that yield real results.

Before we dive into the intricacies of effective banner ad design, it's crucial to grasp the fundamental role that banner ads play in digital marketing. Banner ads are visual advertisements displayed on websites or apps, typically in the form of static images or animated graphics. These ads aim to grab the audience's attention, create brand awareness, and ultimately drive traffic to a specific website or landing page.

But let's take a step back and explore the fascinating history of banner ads. Did you know that the first banner ad was created in 1994? It was a simple, rectangular image that appeared on the website of Wired Magazine. This groundbreaking ad, which featured the text "Have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You will," generated an impressive click-through rate of 44% at the time. This success marked the beginning of a new era in digital advertising.

First Banner Ad - Source


  • What banner ads are used for in marketing
  • What makes great banner ad designs
  • The psychology of banner ad design
  • How to optimise banner ad design
  • Overcoming banner ad design challenges

What are banner ads used for in marketing?

Banner ads serve as powerful tools to promote products, services, or special offers to a wide range of internet users. They enable businesses to reach their target audience effectively and increase brand exposure. By strategically placing well-designed banner ads on high-traffic websites and platforms, companies can significantly boost their online presence and attract potential customers.

Banner ads have evolved over the years to adapt to changing consumer preferences and technological advancements. From static images to interactive HTML5 animations, banner ads have become more engaging and immersive. This evolution has allowed advertisers to captivate their audience and deliver their message in a more impactful way.

Banner ads are used in a number of ways in marketing, including in:

  • Search engines like Google for banner ads displayed around their display network
  • E-commerce websites may use banner ads to promote services or sales
  • Mobile apps
  • Email newsletters

What makes a great banner ad design?

When it comes to designing an effective banner ad, several key elements need to be considered.


Firstly, a compelling headline that grabs the attention of the audience and effectively communicates your value proposition is paramount. A clear, concise, and enticing message can entice users to further explore the ad. For example, a banner ad promoting a new clothing collection could have a headline like "Discover the Latest Fashion Trends: Shop Now!" This headline creates curiosity and encourages users to click on the ad to explore the collection. It’s good practice to keep headline copy simple, make it easy for your customer to understand what it is you’re advertising and how they can get started (more on CTA’s later).


Secondly, a visually appealing layout that incorporates complementary colours, eye-catching imagery and an effective structure is essential. Aspects to think about when designing your banner ads include:

  • The use of vibrant colours and high-quality visuals can make a banner ad stand out from the surrounding content and capture the audience's attention.
  • Maintaining the right balance between your basic components of company logo, your main copy and your CTA.
  • Using a clearly defined frame. People’s eyes are naturally drawn to what’s inside the frame, if your ad blends too closely into a website it may go unnoticed. Common practice is to include a grey border around the ad. 

Imagine a banner ad for a travel agency that showcases stunning images of exotic destinations. This visual appeal can evoke a sense of wanderlust and entice users to click on the ad to learn more about the travel packages offered.


Lastly, a strong call to action (CTA) encourages users to take the desired action, whether it's clicking on the ad, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter. A well-designed CTA button with clear and actionable text, such as "Shop Now," "Learn More," or "Get Started," can prompt users to engage with the ad and convert into customers. The placement of the CTA button is also crucial, as it should be easily accessible and distinct within the ad. Best practice is to include the CTA after the main headline and copy, usually in the right-hand or bottom of the ad and to use a different but complementary colour to highlight it.

Additionally, incorporating urgency or incentivising offers can further entice users to take immediate action.

By incorporating compelling headlines, visually appealing layouts, and strong CTAs, businesses can create banner ads that effectively grab the audience's attention, increase brand awareness, and drive valuable traffic to their websites or landing pages.

How Your Audience View Banner Ads

Understanding the psychology behind viewer engagement is vital for creating impactful banner ads. Colour and typography play significant roles in influencing audience perceptions, emotions, and overall engagement. Let's take a closer look at each element.

Steps to designing an effective banner ad

Now that we have covered the basics and explored the psychology behind effective banner ad design, let's dive into the step-by-step process of creating a compelling banner ad.

Defining your banner ad's purpose

Before you start designing, it's crucial to clearly define the purpose of your banner ad. What message do you want to convey, and what action do you want users to take? By establishing a clear objective, you can focus your design efforts and create an ad that effectively communicates your intended message and drives desired outcomes.

Choosing the right size and format

Selecting the appropriate size and format for your banner ad is vital for its success. Different platforms and websites have varying requirements and guidelines. Understanding these specifications and ensuring your ad is optimised for the intended placement is crucial. A well-sized and properly formatted ad will display correctly and have a greater chance of capturing the audience's attention.

Dimensions for Google Display Banner Ads:

  • 468 x 60 pixels (Banner)
  • 300 x 50 pixels (Mobile Banner)

Top performing banner ad dimensions according to Google Ad sense:

  • 300 x 250 px - Medium Rectangle
  • 336 x 280 px - Large Rectangle
  • 728 x 90 px - Leaderboard
  • 300 x 600 px - Half page
  • 320 x100 px - Large mobile banner

Examples of Google Display Banner Ads
Example Google Display Banner Ad selection

Tips for optimising your banner ad design

In addition to following the fundamental steps, there are some additional tips and best practices that can elevate your banner ad design and make it even more impactful.

Keeping it simple and clear

Simplicity is key when it comes to banner ad design. Avoid cluttering the ad with excessive text or graphics that can distract the viewer. Keep the message clear and concise, ensuring that it is easy to understand at a glance. A clean and uncluttered design will allow the viewer to quickly grasp the main point of your ad and increase the likelihood of taking action.

Using high-quality images and graphics

The visual appeal of your banner ad greatly influences its effectiveness. Utilise high-quality images and graphics that align with your brand identity and message. Vivid and relevant visuals will not only grab the audience's attention but also contribute to the overall credibility and professionalism of your ad.

Testing and refining your banner ad design

Regular testing and refinement of your banner ad design are vital for achieving optimal results. A/B testing different variations of your design can help identify what elements work best and drive the highest engagement. Test different colours, ad placements, call-to-action wording, and imagery to uncover the winning combination that delivers the desired outcomes.

Use the right file formats

For the delivered banner ad design, the file formats most commonly used are JPG, PNG, HTML5 or GIF.

Keep files small

According to Google Adwords, files should be a maximum of 150KB. In general, keeping file sizes small is good practice to ensure that the ad is able to load as fast as possible. 

Overcoming common challenges in banner ad design

While designing an effective banner ad can be a rewarding endeavour, there are some common challenges that designers often face. By being aware of these challenges, you can proactively address them and create ads that perform exceptionally.

Dealing with ad-blockers

Ad-blockers have become increasingly prevalent, posing a significant challenge for digital marketers. To overcome this obstacle, focus on creating valuable and engaging content that users won't want to block. Craft ads that are seamlessly integrated into the browsing experience rather than intrusive distractions. By providing value to the user, you can increase the chances of your ad being seen and interacted with.

Ensuring mobile responsiveness

With the pervasive use of smartphones and tablets, it's crucial to design banner ads that are mobile-responsive. Ensure that your ad adapts and displays correctly on various screen sizes and orientations. Test your ad on different devices to guarantee an optimal user experience across platforms, enhancing engagement and driving conversions.

Avoiding common design mistakes

Designing a captivating banner ad requires careful attention to detail. Avoid common design mistakes such as using illegible fonts, overcrowding the ad with excessive text, or neglecting to optimise it for fast loading speeds. These mistakes can diminish the overall impact of your ad and potentially deter users from engaging with it.

In conclusion, effective banner ad design is a crucial aspect of any successful digital marketing campaign. By understanding the various elements and psychology behind viewer engagement, following a systematic approach, and adhering to best practices, you can create compelling ads that captivate your target audience and drive tangible results. Incorporating simplicity, high-quality visuals, and a strong call to action while testing and refining your designs will elevate your banner ads to new heights. Overcome common design challenges, stay adaptable to ever-changing trends, and unleash the full potential of your marketing efforts through effective banner ad design.

Leah Camps
Marketing Executive
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