Banner Design for Affiliate Marketing: The Definitive Guide
Intro to Banner Ads
Are you a media buyer concerned with making the best banner of all time?
A banner so hot it’s gonna give you that sweet CTR which allows your campaign to be more effective, making sure it showcases phenomenal performances?
Maybe you’re just an affiliate marketer who wants to know more about how to make a killer banner.
It doesn’t matter!
Because today I’m gonna show you how it’s done!
Before you can become fully able to create a super appealing banner, you’ll need to get to know some info.
I’m referring to such things as which font you should use, which colors can allow you to get a higher CTR, the most common banner dimensions and format specifications.
What is a Banner Ad?
A banner ad is a common form of online advertising.
Banner ads are generally used to attract traffic and their main goal is simple:
To be appealing to users so they feel like clicking the banner – which is usually a specific promotion, such as an offer.
If you’re used to surfing the internet you’ve come across banner ads.
There’s no doubt about that.
Sometimes banners are so similar to the site interface you don’t even realize you’re looking at them.
At other times, you look at one and it’s clear that it’s a banner.
It all depends on the approach used on the communication, and on the quality of the design.
There are banners with image and text, banners which are just an image, banners which only contain text, and even animated banners.
Most of the the times, the most important part of the banner is the Call-to-Action (CTA) button that encourages users to take action.
The action is usually clicking on the button, which will redirect users to a specific offer/site/landing page.
Banner Ads Examples
How to Use Banner Advertising to Make Money?
Before starting to refer to the technical specifications, there’s one big elephant in the room.
This is something that I really need to make clear to you guys: a good banner is a combination of different factors, such as the banner’s design, the banner’s target, and its specific content.
The latter point is hyper important.
You should always think about where users are gonna be led to after they click the banner, designing your creative bearing its specific destination in mind.
Taking this into account, you should also know that making money using banners isn’t an exact science.
The same banner – used in different circumstances – can have varying performances.
Sometimes, a very small change on the banner can really improve its performance.
So this is really a trial and error process based on a whole lotta testing.
Banner Size – What’s the Deal?
Now let’s get technical! Time to dive in and refer to banner sizes.
There are some common sizes you should really know about.
If you’re working with the mainstream industry, the banner dimensions are 320 x 50 px, 300 x 250 px, and 320 x 480 px.
If you’re working with adult content, you’ll be working with 300 x 250 px and 300 x 100 px.
Those sizes are a standard so you can find them across the web.
Remember: you’re mostly working for mobile devices.
You should always bear that in mind when designing the banner.
Even if you’re creating your banner on a desktop computer – which you probably are – try to visualize your design and think about it being seen on a smartphone screen.
And if you wanna check how the banner would really look on a smartphone, you can use an emulator, such as the Ripple emulator.
Designing banners for mobile also means that you’ve gotta think about the size of your banner.
You don’t wanna have a heavy banner, because that’ll influence the loading speed and the user experience.
That being said, try to make sure the size is lower than 800 kb.
How to be certain that your banner doesn’t cross that line?
You’ll need to take advantage of an awesome invention: compressed files.
The best and most popular ones are .JPG (also known as .JPEG) .PNG, and .GIF (the latter is used for animated banners.)
The .JPEG format is the most popular file type used for banners on the internet.
It’s the perfect solution to use when you’re working with photographs or complex images containing gradients, lots of colors or shadows.
Besides having a huge color palette, JPEGs usually give you a file that’s got the right size (under 200kb.)
JPEGs also allow you to adjust your banner’s quality.
You can opt to go for high or low quality, letting you tweak your banner’s final size according to your needs.
Another popular file format is PNG, which can be divided between the PNG-8 and the PNG-24.
The PNG-8 is smaller than the PNG-24, but is limited to a palette of 256 colors, which won’t be a good option if you’ve got a complex banner with lots of colors.
PNG-24 has a more diverse color palette.
This is gonna mean a higher quality compared to the PNG-8.
However, it’ll also mean you get a much larger file.
The main difference between .JPG and .PNG files is that .PNG allows you to use transparent backgrounds.
You should take this info into account in case you wanna reveal a specific background detail of your site.
What about .GIF files?
.GIF is a format used specifically for documents with moving images.
If you wanna create an animated banner ad, this is the format you’ll be working with.
Here’s an example:
The more complex your animation, the bigger your file will be.
BEWARE: high-quality GIFs mean large files, which will have a slow loading speed.
This cruel fact will be quite obvious in case you’re surfing the web on mobile.
GIF’s coolest advantage (compared to the other formats) is the possibility to contain more content, since you can distribute the info among different frames.
Animated banners can be an interesting tool to promote your offer, but you should be careful about your banner’s length: if your banner is too long, the user may lose interest and will eventually only see half of it!
Choose Your Images Carefully
The images you use on your banner ad are as important as the banner’s structure.
These pics should really have that awesome quality that makes users go nuts!
Indeed, that quality is gonna be relevant, since it’ll obviously help attract more potential users.
You should always pick professional images which look clear.
You need to stay away from blurred images, since they’ll be avoided by users, who’ll obviously decide to click another banner which looks better than yours.
Try to pick dynamic pictures that match the content you’re promoting.
This will give credibility to your banner, as well as reinforce the message you’re trying to go for.
Pro tip: choose pictures with a good contrast in terms of colors.
Search for free pics on Stock photos sites.
There are a few which are very good and free to use in a commercial context.
My top stock sites:
The crucial principle of contrast mentioned above should also be applied to the different elements of your banner such as typography, shapes, colors, and the size of the elements.
If you always bear this in mind, the user will have a better visual experience since it becomes easier to check the different elements in the banner.
A good banner with a clear contrast will also help you stand tall against your direct competition.
Moreover, you should never forget that your banner needs to be designed bearing the platform where it’s gonna be showcased in mind.
Try getting a feel of the website/app where you wanna display the banner.
This will allow you to adjust, adapt and come up with something really special and perfect for that particular spot!
How to make sure your creatives are gonna fit in?
Use similar colors, similar typefaces and – if necessary – the same type of images shown on the website.
Check this example to understand what I mean:
On the example above, the banner’s designer had one obvious concern:
To design the banner specifically for this website.
This will make sure you’ll get more people to actually click the banner, since they can be tricked and led to believe the banner is part of the website.
Be like the chameleon and you shall succeed!
Now let’s check the exact same website with the same banner.
The color is different!
This proves that – just by creating a banner of a different color – you can have a totally different result.
What’s gonna happen?
Users will now check this banner and they’ll feel like it doesn’t fit in.
It seems strange.
The colors have got nothing to do with the website!
Now imagine this scenario: a user walks in, opens the door, and checks this image.
What are they gonna think?
That it makes no sense and looks weird, like something that doesn’t belong. Users will definitely hesitate and think twice before clicking, since they’ll surely know that this image is gonna be a trampoline which will redirect them to a whole other page.
This example also showcases the importance of choosing the right color when creating your banner, since it can also really influence how clear/unclear the words contained on the banner are gonna be.
Got any doubts?
Feel like you can’t really tell whether or not your banner has great or awful legibility?
Here’s a cool technique that can help you: close your eyes to 85% and try to distinguish the text from the background.
If you can’t distinguish one from the other then you’ve got a problem, mister!
What to do?
You’ve gotta get back to the drawing board!
Check what you’ve gotta do in order to improve your banner’s legibility.
Why is legibility so hard to get right?
Because there may be a lack of contrast between the luminosity of the banner and the color of the typography.
Take a good look at this example to understand what I mean:
The banner is well designed, no doubt about it.
Even so, it lacks something in terms of good legibility.
What about visual hierarchy?
Shoddy, to say the least.
The call-to-action button should be way clearer to the user, in order for them to click like crazy!
Check this out:
In order for me to be able to explain this to you, I’ve changed the banner a bit.
I’ve kept the elements smooth and minimal while really improving legibility.
In order to keep the main text (“Ocula”) white, I applied a blue layer with some transparency over the image, which allows me to have the background image visible, as well as the text legible.
In order to make sure I wouldn’t have to change the color of the word “Ocula” I decided to apply a blue layer.
It’s got a bit of transparency over the image, since this technique allows me to have both a clear background and text.
To wrap it up, I changed the call-to-action button to a more appealing one.
This is super important, since this is the part of the banner where the user is gonna click.
The best way for you to know how to design great banners is to put yourself in the user’s shoes.
In which type of banner would you click?
When designing your banner, never forget about the following 4 Banner Ad Rules:
- Choose a typeface with good legibility
- Try to have a nice contrast between the written text and the banner’s background
- Choose professional, sharp images
- Always have a clear Call-to-Action button on the banner. If possible, use intense and appealing colors. This is crucial for you to be able to create an engaging experience between the user and the banner.
And that’s all for now!