Digital ads have evolved but the formula for a successful ad creative still stems from 5 core principles

  1. Know your audience
  2. Craft a simple message
  3. Get right to the point
  4. Be relevant
  5. Come clean (transparent messaging)

Banner ads have gone from simple images to a variety of advanced audio-visual formats delivered across channels to reach consumers wherever they are. Considering how to create an effective ad that will draw attention and generate clicks can be boiled down to these five points. Applying them to your ad concept will ensure that your creative speaks directly to your intended audience, driving conversions and making you money.

Know your audience

This is the universal KEYSTONE. While I was writing this post, I thought to myself, “How do I craft my message?” Digging down I realized that I was outlining my thoughts based on who I was writing to—you!

Make sure you have a clearly defined audience, that you understand who they are, what they’re looking for, and how they want to find it. Without this piece, you’re going to find the other four difficult to execute. Without knowing whom you’re trying to reach, you’re casting a wide net, which brings down the quality of your clicks.

Craft a simple message

Are you selling a product, idea, or a cause? Make sure the audience knows what it is at first glance. With banner ads, you usually have a very slim window to earn attention from consumers online. Make sure that when they do spot your ad in the side bar of their favorite web page, it’s absolutely clear what you’re showing them.

Get right to the point

Sprint has a strong offer to draw families away from competitors with a hefty data package serving 4 lines for only $100/month. They do a great job here of giving a detailed yet brief description of the offer, which is enough to get curious buyers to click through and get more of the nitty-gritty from the landing page.

Use clear, concise messaging. If consumers have to interpret your offer, chances are they’ll skip right by it. Short and sweet takes the cake.

Be relevant

Turbotax knows that people are looking for easy, low-cost solutions to get their taxes done. It’s no coincidence that you probably received your w-2 recently and have also started seeing ads like this on almost every website. A well-timed campaign.

Pay attention to what’s going on in the world your audience lives in and what they’re interested in. Leverage relevant trends to supercharge your campaign without lifting any additional fingers or having to shell out more dollars. Again, it all ties back to truly knowing your audience.

Come clean

Ads like this are easy to understand, but I think 99% of us have learned one way or another that Mom was right, there is no such thing as absolutely “free”. In my opinion banner ads like this one come across as bait, and I tend to leave them be. If I knew from the ad what I would have to provide in order to receive the free product, then I’d be more likely to click and explore the offer. Maybe it’s just a quick survey—harmless! But if you’re not telling me up front then I’m going to assume it’s something much, much worse.

Be honest and transparent with your messaging. It builds trust and makes people want to do business with you. Let your customers know exactly what you’ve got to offer without beating around the bush with vaguely worded, fluffy catch phrases. If you have an innovative product or a meaningful cause you want to share, show them! This will increase the quality of your conversions by only bringing folks who are actually ready to be your customer.

To summarize, or “TLDR” as they say nowadays, if you get to know your audience ahead of time, you can put together a simple yet effective ad that will get their attention. It shows that you take time to understand who they are and what they’re looking for, and you are ready to cater to their individual needs. It will build a relationship between you and your audience that fosters loyalty and a strong brand reputation.