Hot, Tiny Ads: Banner Ads for Mobile Screens

Last week I stepped you through the creation of your first mobile content advertising campaign. This week I’ll describe best practices for designing mobile banner ads that’ll help you maximize response and conversion rates.

I’ve already devoted two columns to best practices in non-text ad design (“Contextual Advertising Best Practices: Banners and Video Ads,” and “Every Picture Tells a Story: Non-text Contextual Ads“). A mobile banner ad needs to work really hard despite its diminutive size. Like its beefier counterpart on a standard HTML site, the mobile ad needs to quickly evoke the following:

  • Distraction — persuade the potential site visitor to concentrate their attention on the ad, rather than the screen/page content that’s the main attraction
  • “This ad’s for me” — create a connection between the user and the site or page’s subject matter
  • There’s a reason for me to look closely at the ad — enumerate the features and benefits
  • Pre-qualification (optional) — make sure the wrong people aren’t persuaded to click
  • Pre-sale (optional) — describe the action you want them to take on the landing page
  • Call to action — e.g. “Start Saving Now!”

That’s a pretty tall order for an ad of any size, much less one that measures just a cell-phone-screen wide and a few pixels tall. Let’s look at a few examples. First, this one from Pepsi:

Pepsi content ad

This one works pretty well. The word “Free” always helps attract the eye, and the images are simple and motivating. It’s easy to understand that clicking on the ad will lead to the opportunity to win a free car – and even if the ad viewer isn’t interested in that, they’re still “impressed” by the Pepsi logo and the exhortation to “Enjoy Pepsi.”

Let’s look at a less-effective example:

Range Rover content ad

Though the message is pretty clear – there’s a Range Rover on offer – there’s no indication that tells the ad viewer what to do. The advertiser clearly wants the viewer click on the ad, but they don’t tell the viewer that, and there’s no indication of how the ad viewer will benefit from the click. The simple addition of a line like “Find Your Local Dealer” would have boosted response appreciably.

One last example:

Superman content ad

I love this one for its simplicity. Unmistakably targeted at Superman fans, the call to action is clear and compelling: click on the ad to be taken to a clip of an upcoming movie.

Get the picture? Keep it simple, make the benefit and action clear, and you’ll be enjoying those double-digit CTRs every time.

Which brings us to the end of this week’s column, and to this series of Content Advertising articles. The past 30 installments have hopefully demystified Content Advertising for you, and equipped you to launch and optimize campaigns that rival Paid Search campaigns in effectiveness. Starting next month, I’ll be writing a series of weekly columns that teach best practices in search PPC, starting with the fundamentals. Follow along even if you consider yourself an expert – I promise you’ll see some tips and techniques you’re not yet using!

So don’t miss out. sign up for the “Profitable PPC” e-mail newsletter, Search Engine Watch Experts RSS feed, or my individual author RSS feed today.

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