Display advertisement is often considered unprofitable due to high cost and low CTR (click-through-rate). However, improving the look and the position of your banner may improve the overall performance and increase the profitability of your campaigns.
1. Banner position.
The best position is close to the user’s eye path, that is to what a user is looking for on the page. E.g. an order confirmation, a product description, a sign-up form. Banners placed outside the main structural blocks of the page will probably not be noticed. In fact, users have learned to filter and ignore the parts of the web page typically occupied by banners (the top and the right-hand side of the page).
Banners placed on the side of the page vertically typically get half of the clicks that the banners placed horizontally do even if they are placed on the same level.
If a user has to scroll to view the banner, this reduces the CTR drastically, so avoid placing the banner at the bottom of a longer page, unless the user normally has to scroll to the end of the page (e.g. when reading an article).
Surrounding banners, graphics and text also have a direct impact on your CTR. Experience shows that a user normally skims through blocks of content, thus grouping parts a web page together. If your banner is placed beneath or next to a bulky blinking ad, the user will often dismiss both your banner and the ad as one content block that is of no interest to him/her.
2. Banner design.
Recent studies prove that a banner that matches the overall design of the page (i.e. uses similar colors, fonts, spacing, etc.) performs better than a banner that is a contrasting or exceptional element to the page design. My experience shows that the following elements have practically no positive impact on the CTR: moving or blinking elements, pictures of objects or people, logos, colorful backgrounds, flash animation, etc. However, consider the whole of the user journey on the website, if a graphical element, e.g. an icon, appears several times on different pages of a website, consider implementing it on your banner.
3. Banner text.
Here be specific about what your offer is. Provide the benefit the user will get from clicking on the banner in a wording that is suitable for the audience you are trying to reach. Banner title is the most important part of the banner text, often the only part of the text that actually gets read. Make sure that it captures the attention of the user, without exaggerating what you actually offer.
4. Call to action.
Make your call to action the most prominent element of the banner. Be very brief and precise about the action the user needs to take (“receive your free copy”, “register now”, “proceed to the checkout”). It is always good to make the CTR button three-dimensional and/or contrasting to the main palette.
5. A/B tests.
These recommendations are of general character and will not necessarily work on any page and for any product being advertised. Consider running some A/B or even multivariant tests in order to find out what actually performs best, both in terms of CTR and how profitable and qualified the incoming leads are.