Display Advertising | Top 5 best practices

Display advertising in all their forms are very useful tactic in today’s businesses and organizations. In fact, they are one of the most common advertising tools in online world today. However, lots of companies, and organizations.....

Top 5 display advertising best practices

Display advertising in all their forms are very useful tactic in today’s businesses and organizations. In fact, they are one of the most common advertising tools in online world today. However, lots of companies, and organizations struggle to design effective display ads. With the high competition in digital advertising today, not to mention the fact that some companies even have dedicated display ad teams. It may be very difficult and challenging for you to stand a chance.

This is why I have curated this piece to help you with the best display ads practices that will help you stand out.

But before looking at how to design the best display ads, let’s first talk about what they are and where they can be found.

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What Is Display Advertising?

Display ads are forms of advertising that is used to attract an audience to take a certain action either on your site, products or services. This is a push advertising technique that displays product or service information based on the needs and/or concerns of a specific demographic, psychographic, and/or geographic audience. This means your ad is shown to a user irrespective of whether the person wants to see it or. In comparison to paid search ads; these are a form of “pull” advertising. This means that paid search ads only appear when someone is already searching for your services or products online.

Unlike search ads that are text-based without any graphics or visuals, display ads typically have text, pictures, logos, videos, and other visuals to attract an audience.

Display ads are mainly used to build awareness of products and services. This means, they guide the target audience through the purchase funnel by advertising relevant information to help make a buying decision. Finally, they enable businesses to re-engage with their audience after they visited their website and did not take the desired action.

The Differences Between Search Ads, Display Ads, and Social Media Advertising

Where Can You find display advertising?

Display ads can be found in any of the following; social media sites, blogs, news websites, email box and anywhere else on the internet. Below are more details about where display ads can appear:


Display ads are found throughout many websites and blogs these days. These are the traditional ad banners that are usually found at the top of site content or along the side of the page, bottom or even somewhere within the content itself. Different targeting parameters are used to choose which ads appears and on which part of the screen. These parameters include search history, interests, age, and location all play a role in which display ads appear for a particular user.

Social Media

Display ads seen on social media come in many different forms depending on the social media channels. This is because all social media platforms have different layouts and features specific to them. These features, layouts and parameters set by each social media site are done in such a way that they help provide better user experience to every individual.

These social media ads can appear as short-form Twitter posts, visually-focused Instagram posts, text-heavy Facebook posts, and much more.

To help you succeed in your display advertising efforts, here are some display ads best practices to consider. Keep reading to learn about a few very important display ad design tips.

1. Keep It Simple & Stupid (KISS)

It can be very tempting to try and get the most return for your cash when it comes to display ads. This makes us want to throw as much info on the ad as possible so as to try and pass the message. However, you should note that many of the most common display ad sizes comes in small banner types, therefore too much information in a small space can be overwhelming, confusing and most times even difficult to read. This is why it is important to keep all your messaging, images, and Call-to-Actions (CTA) as clear and simple as possible, straight to the point. It might not say all you want, but a simple, clean design that utilizes great white space and a clear hierarchy can be incredibly effective and performs a lot better than clusters ads.

2. Create Visual Consistency Between Your display advertising and Landing Page

A lot of display ads are guilty of confusing their audience. Most times, consumer can see an enticing ad, and then click on it. Only to go to a landing page that has no visual or messaging consistency with the ad that brought them there in the first place. In this instance, they may not even see the offer they clicked on initially. This can be very irritating and can put off your audience in an annoying.

Your display ad should always show similarity with the landing page.  E.g. An image that is in your landing page with similar colour scheme and font type. All of these elements can create an experience that is invisible yet satisfying, which can ultimately lead to more conversations.

All About Digital Advertising Explained

3. Use High Quality Assets with Great Colour Scheme

Simply because display ads are often small, doesn’t mean you should compromise your quality. It is best advised to use high-quality imagery that stands out (this could be photographic or illustrations), good legible type font and ensure that your brand elements such as logos are especially clear and crisp.

While you approach your design with the best quality, you should also match that with great colour that syncs with your brand. Because colour send a whole different message about what your brand should stand for. For example, if a brand speaks to females, using feminine colour will be your best approach to capturing your audience.

We all know that the human eye is equipped with the ability to detect good quality and colour scheme that easily helps us differentiate quality stuffs from something that’s boring, so try to make your display ad design crisp, lively and inviting. In addition, it’s a good practice to always export your finished design at the highest quality possible while still maintaining the file size required by the sites or social media.

4. Best display advertising Contains 20% Text

One thing to keep in mind when designing your display ad is that display ad networks like Google Display Network (GDN) and Facebook have strict rules for the amount of text you could include in your ad. The old rule for GDN and Facebook advertising, for instance, was that “your ad banner should not contain more than 20% text.”

Today, these rules are more flexible — at least, in theory. However, in reality, Google or Facebook may decide to reject your ad or dramatically lower its chances of appearing.

Regardless of what they decide to do with your ads, following the 80/20 text rule is a solid best practice to help keep your ads safe, clear and straight to the point. While you want enough visual white space for your messages to stand out, you also need to give your audience the ability to easily read the ad.

Also, maintaining the 20% text rule encourages better display ad design. It will guide you on how to maximize the clarity of your layout, while also condensing your messages and hitting the key points. This practice can generally lead to more effective ads and more conversions overall.

5. Have Simplified Layout

In display advertising generally, less is more. This is very evident and highly applicable when it comes to banner ads, which is a form of display advertising.

Display ad designers should go beyond the text and focus more on the overall visual without any clutter. Ideally, your ad copy should frame the image, leading to a spacious, more visually appealing design. Many ads introduce a fair amount of white space in order to make their messages clearer.

nike display ads sample
Example of good display ad.. With clear and simple message… also has consistency….

In conclusion, it can be tempting to use as many fancy effects as you wish in your display ad, but never underestimate the power of a simple design that is built on strong design principles and effectively communicates your message to the viewer.

By ensuring your designs are clear and free of distracting elements, you are making your marketing campaign crisp and much more effective.

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