Best Practices for Digital Ad Design: Top 10 List Helps Predict and Drive Consumer Response Across Screens

By Marc Mathies, Director, Consumer Experience, Valassis Digital
Published Monday, Mar 21, 2016

Best Practices for Digital Ad Design: Top 10 List Helps Predict and Drive Consumer Response Across Screens

Following the Super Bowl where the ads get as much press as the game itself, you want your ad to be memorable and activating. It’s great to create buzz, but how many times have you heard someone say I remember the puppymonkeybaby, but can’t remember the advertiser? 

While you want your ad — on TV, in print or digital — to be seen, what you REALLY want is for it to be the reason a consumer buys your product or walks in the doors of a featured retailer.

When it comes to digital ad design, this top 10 list is based on results. Valassis Digital conducted a study analyzing the creative tactics and performance of ad programs run on behalf of our clients. As a result, there are five trends that help predict and drive consumer response — familiarity, relevance, appeal, motive and efficiency. 

Building on those trends to improve the consumer experience across screens, consider these top 10 tips to help your ad rise above the rest and get results. See how many — if not all — of the 10 tips you can incorporate in your ad design. Then, get ready for consumer response. 

  1. Prominently display your logo. Logos establish brand recognition and should comprise about 10-15 percent of the total ad area. Performance begins to diminish when the logo is larger than 20 percent of the area as it begins to compete with the call to action.
  2. Make your call to action look like a button. Borrow this familiar call-to-action treatment. Consumers readily click a button to fill out data or respond to a banner ad so why not use this same, familiar approach in your ad?
    Include physical location queues.  Our research shows that specifying local geography lifts ad performance — always a desired goal!
  3. Show a face or product image. Over 91 percent of top-performing ads feature either a human face or product image so make your ad visually appealing.
  4. Convey value in your call-to-action message. State the value in terms of saving time, money or effort. Phrases such as “learn more” or “click here” don’t readily establish value to consumers. 
  5. Create a sense of urgency. Give consumers a reason to act immediately — use verbiage such as “ends soon” or “limited quantities.
  6. Tell consumers what is most important. Our analysis found that the top three elements that should pop off the page are the call to action, branding and imagery. According to the Valassis Digital study, over 87 percent of the highest performing ads feature the call-to-action button in the lower right corner.
  7. Edit your content; less is more. Use seven words or less. It may be difficult to be concise, but you must grab your consumers’ attention quickly.
  8. Mind your proportions. Build and review your ads at their intended size to experience what consumers will see.
    Think multi-device and don’t short change the small screen. Resist resizing larger digital ads for smaller screen formats, which could lessen the impact and reduce the effectiveness of the call-to-action button.

Remember, it is not solely about reaching consumers. It is about identifying, connecting and activating. Count all 10 of these tips in your next digital ad design – the results may surprise you.