Top 5 Design Principles of Display Advertising

Display Advertising

Imagine you are looking up Google for information, and suddenly an ad pops in, hiding the content you are reading. Your immediate action would be to block it. That’s what even a survey by says. 11% of Internet users are now blocking ads, and many others are just tuning them out. So if you are a marketer and have invested in display ads, you have to work extra hard to make people click on them when they see it.

Also, do not underestimate the power of design, as 50 percent of companies have accepted that design plays a massive role in achieving success. After all, the design is what influences first impressions and shapes the way consumers perceive your brand. Not every marketer or start-up founder who wishes to do display ad campaigns is a design expert. So in this blog, we will look at the five key principles for creating high-performing display ads.


A great structure is the foundation of a good display ad. And there are some practices you should follow while mapping your ad. The interactive advertising bureau suggests that display ads must be easily distinguishable from the web page content, and it must have clearly defined borders. It shouldn’t be confused with normal web page content.

It is also advisable to keep your ad’s sizing flexible as people view it on different screens and it changes. Google offers various ad sizes ranging from half-page ads to the leaderboard one to large mobile banners. The top three ad sizes which are ranked in terms of performance are 300×250 (a medium rectangle), 336×280 (a large rectangle), and 728×90 (a leaderboard).

So, ensure you have a strong yet flexible structure that can fit each format, paying special attention to the top-performing sizes.

The fundamental elements of a display ad are

  • Your company logo and name
  • A value proposition
  • An image or visual representation of your service
  • A CTA

Of course, your value proposition and CTA are the most important. One company had a sound that optimizing the CTA gave a whopping 245% increase in lead. This is how critical it is. The value proposition and CTA should be the two most visually distinct elements. You should place the logo on the sides at one edge of your ad. Also, you should make sure that the image doesn’t cause any hindrance to the copy.

This is just one of the ways to arrange the elements. The exact structure can be done as you desire as long as the CTA and value proposition dominate your copy. The elements can be rearranged; however, you want it to suit different ad sizes.


In the design world, color is vital as it is used to seek people’s attention and evoke a sense of emotion. When you think about Coca-Cola, red always sticks to your mind.

The psychology of colors is always fascinating and something you need to pay attention to while designing ads. One study showed that men and women have different color preferences. The most popular colors among men are blue and green, while women are blue and purple.

So, you should use a slightly different color palette depending on whom your campaign is aimed at. The industries favor particular colors. In the communications industry, blue and black are the most used colors. Using these colors in their display instills trust in their brand.

There is much to think about when it comes to picking color palettes for your display ad. The most important questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Who is my campaign aimed at, and which are the colors that will appeal to them?
  • What are people’s expectations from my brand and industry?

The general rule is your color palette should be minimal; you can pick two or three main colors that you can use in ads. If you use an entire rainbow of colors, the viewer won’t know what to focus on. A couple of contrasting colors make the important point stand out. You have to make your color choice wisely, as it will greatly impact the audience. Check out the detailed guide about color combinations in display ads.


Typography is another design element that can draw your attention to critical information, like the speech bubbles in a comic book. Many prominent designers suggest that typography is the most important thing to consider in a design. However, great visuals you come up with; if your audience can’t understand your message, they won’t click on your ad.

The typeface is also influential. There are plenty of fonts that you can incorporate, but that doesn’t mean you should use a bunch of vague fonts in your display ads.

Again you can form a hierarchy with different, complementary typefaces. Use unusual fonts for the essential information you want to convey. A more traditional font can be incorporated to add information. You can also use the bold typeface where you want the copy to stand out.


Have you heard of the KISS principle? It means ‘Keep it simple.’ Though the phrase originates in product design, it can be applied in any context. Display ads are meant to be compact; you aren’t going to bring your whole company’s story in a 300×250 ad. So, you should definitely keep it simple. You have to convey your message clearly and quickly.

Google Marketing recommends using the three C’s for creating creative display ads. They should be compelling, clear, and concise so that you don’t overwhelm your audience. The CTA and value proposition are unmistakable, and that’s what you want. The three C’s mean that you need a design that grabs the viewer’s attention, a brief message, and a clear CTA.

For B2C ads, you would want to display your product. You can do this while still keeping it minimalistic. The trick is to use a high-resolution image that doesn’t clutter your message or CTA.

Customized images and graphics

Never use images to fill up space. Or because you think you need to have them in your display ad. You know how essential images are in marketing, and you have also heard that you are more likely to remember information you see than hear. Why is this even the case? Images communicate valuable information in a moment. That’s why it’s so important in marketing. And why you shouldn’t use images for the sake of it. They have to serve a purpose.

The purpose of your image is to display your product in glory. Perhaps you are combining images and graphics to make your ad more and more eye-catching. Use the custom imagery in a way it is likely to spark an interest among your viewers. The thumb rule is to avoid stock images. Design is everything about creativity, after all. The image should capture the attention but shouldn’t take away the ad’s message. To emulate your products’ success, show them off, or lure people in with unique and interesting images. But at the same time make sure your CTA and Value proposition are at the forefront as you want clicks, of course.

Good designs with smart targeting can make you cure widespread blindness towards banners. So, make sure you follow key design principles to come up with the best display ads possible.

The first thing is to develop an effective structure that has a clear value proposition and CTA. Choose a simple color palette that depicts your marketing and branding goals. For typography, construct a hierarchy that makes sure the most important information stands out. Keep your overall design simple and elegant. And finally, opt for images that are unique and grab the attention of your audience.

All Time Design provides unlimited graphic design at a flat fee with 14-day risk-free trial.

November 20, 2021
10 min read
7 reads

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