How To Write Effective Banner Ad Copy

Banner ads are serious marketing real estate. However, their small size and intrusive nature mean you need to get yours right to see great results. Here's how.

Andrew McDonald

7/15/20223 min read

Banner ads, advertisements embedded in websites, done well can seriously improve your sales. Usually containing at least one image and some short, to the point text, they should also always include the brand name and a call to action (CTA). The idea is people click on the ad, often the CTA button, and are brought to the brand website.

There’s one thing to clarify before we delve into how to write effective banner ad copy. You will need someone with strong graphic design skills to help you with the appearance of your ad. Remember, your ad must capture attention and hold it long enough to get people to follow through on the CTA. For that, it’s highly recommended you work with a graphic designer (hint: I know a number of good ones, so I can help you with that). As the design of the banner ad is their forte, I’m not going to cover that here. We’ll look instead at the copy, the text you’ll include in your ad.

1. Know Your Size

Banner sizes come in several dimensions. According to Google Adsense, the best performing ad styles are (in order): leaderboard (728x90), half-page (300x600), large rectangle (336x280), medium rectangle (300x250) and large mobile banner (320x100). There are many other sizes, but these are the most effective.

A key thing to remember is banner ads are by nature intrusive. For example, if you go to a history website, you’re not looking for offers from flight companies. Yes, you may well be interested in heading to locations where events from the past took place. However, your purpose for visiting the site was to read interesting stories from yesteryear. Anything which gets in the way of that risks being an annoyance. The ad needs to be eye-catching enough to draw attention without being in-your-face. That is helpful to consider when choosing your size and probably explains why leaderboard is the most successful. It’s the least intrusive as it runs across the width of the page but only a little way down meaning it doesn’t block what someone is actually looking for.

2. Banner Ad Contents

The brand logo must be included. A little obvious perhaps. However, it’s so important it’s worth pointing out. After all, if there’s no branding, that flight company ad I mentioned above could be for Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Qantas, British Airways, United Airlines... You might like some of those companies and absolutely detest others. If you don’t know which company the ad is for, will you click through? Probably not.

There also needs to be a reason for people to follow the CTA. In other words, something which gets them excited enough to want to know more. Words which really stand out include “free” “free trial”, “limited time offer”, “x% off”, etc.

The CTA is also essential. After all, if people viewing the ad don’t know what to do next, they aren’t going to waste their own time working out that particular puzzle. They’ll just return to doing what they first intended. In the example above, reading history articles.

3. Keep Text To The Minimum

Banner ads aren’t the place to get wordy. Their size dictates the need to get the message across in the least amount of space possible. So does their intrusive nature. This doesn’t mean banner ads don’t work, there is a wealth of data providing they very much do. What it does signify is people aren’t going to be open to reading verbose accounts of why they should engage with a particular company. Keep it short and keep it simple. And remember that CTA! That should be to the point too!

4. Test Test Test

It’s a really good idea to test and tweak your banner ad as you run it. An easy way of doing this is by using two versions. Create banner ad A and banner ad B and experiment to find which is more successful. Then either go with the one getting a better return on investment (ROI) or adapt it until you find what you feel is the winning formula.

5. Find a copywriter

OK, here comes a CTA... Getting a copywriter to craft your banner ad/s for you is a great way of ensuring a very welcome ROI. It’s literally our job. Contact me and let’s start creating banner ads you’ll be proud of, that drive up your profitability and which grow your business.