Expert's Opinion

Designing Effective Banners

By Evan Lazarus, LazBro | November 7, 2011

Evan Lazarus provides guidance on what to look for when creating online advertising.

While browsing the web I found a home page brand wrap (advertising sold on the top and sides of a website…so that it looks like the website has been “wrapped”) on a prominent website, done by a large retailer. The only problem was, there was nothing on thewrap that alluded to who the retailer was. There were some pretty shots of people interacting with various back-to-school products, but absolutely NO retailer branding. Hmm ... money well spent?

This happens more often than not… display advertising that makes absolutely no sense for the brand or company that bought it. This really begs the question: are they doing that to be smart? I hope not, since it really isn't that smart to do. If someone doesn't click, all you have is visual branding. If you don’t brand your ad, you have missed out on all the visual branding that display advertising can bring to the table. Research has shown, time and again, that visual branding from banner ads often inspire someone to perform a search query, and places the brand name in a top-of-mind position.

So what should you look out for when creating online advertising? Here are 5 things that you may want to consider:

1. K.I.S.S
We all know that acronym...keep it simple stupid! There is NO reason to throw in every bell and whistle. Sure, flashy ads with built in audio mixers, video mash-ups, shredders, and garlic crushers are fantastic, but without a simple foundation to build that on, it becomes a waste of time and money. Make sure your message is clear, and the call to action is easily identifiable. A static ad with a strong message, is far more effective than a flash ad that doesn't make sense.We have proven it over and over again.

2. Overcrowding does nothing for your message
IAB standard display ad sizes don't give a whole lot of room to impart a message and have snazzy images. Use the space wisely. Don't crowd the space.Give your message enough room to resonate, and make it easy to read. Use a professional designer. Believe me, it is worth the money. We all know your sister's 14-year-old son is great with Print Shop Pro, but he shouldn't be the one to make or break your online advertising budget.

3. Target your design and copy
Seems like common sense, but as my dad used to tell me, common sense isn't that common. A lot can be said about creating a design and using language that your target market identifies with. We came across a very simple example of this in Maui.While talking to Bob Sommers from the Internet Marketing Association Of Hawaii (listen to the podcast here), he gave us an example of how people there say "ON Maui" and people everywhere else say "IN Maui."A small difference, but huge when creating a search campaign, or trying to appeal to a local population.

4. Make sure your call-to-action clicks through to somewhere
Please, please, please QA your ads. Make sure that any links are working correctly, and transport the consumer to the right page on your site. If you are not creating a click-through, you are wasting your time. An effective strategy is to create a separate landing page for each campaign you run, each designed to speak to your target consumer.With a simple analytics package (Google Analytics) you willbe able to track how effective the campaign is.

5. Follow the LCD rule
Create ads for the lowest common denominator. Sure, all the fancy words and abbreviations that you use at work seem commonplace to you, but not everyone gets them. Find copy and images that the majority of people can understand, and you are well on your way to creating effective ads.


Digital advertising is very effective and quite economical to implement, but that doesn't mean that the age old rules of layout, design and copywriting should all leave the building.We are still trying to communicate with human beings, and as they say, people are people. Hire a real designer to put your ads together, and you will surely see success on your next campaign.

About the Author
Evan Lazarus is CEO of LazBro, Inc. ( a full service, digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing for the Health, Beauty & Fitness industry. Over his 15 year career, he has worked on digital initiatives for brands such as P&G, Murad Cosmetics, Whish Body Products, Mystic Tan, VersaSpa, Peachy Pink Cosmetics, Little Tikes, and California Olive Ranch.

Evan can be reached at: LazBro, Inc., 13323 Washington Blvd. #100, Los Angeles, CA 90066. Tel: 310.279.5032, Fax: 866.273.2652. Email:

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