The following guidelines relate to traditional banner ads but can apply to most forms of online advertising.
Conventional wisdom says you should try to grab attention through animation, bright colours, etc. The idea is sound, but be careful. Gaudy is not always good and visitors may be put off by “in your face” ads. Sometimes understatement can work wonders – a subtle ad might actually be what sets you apart.
Try Different Banners:
Use a variety of banners and track their click-though statistics (the number of people who click on them). Be systematic – find out which ones work best and concentrate on them.
Call to Action:
Banners allow visitors to take immediate action and you should take advantage of this. Use words like “Click here”.
Make it Obvious:
Although intrigue can sometimes work, the general rule is to make it obvious. Make sure the viewer knows exactly what the ad is for and what they can expect to happen when they click on it.
If you try to deceive people into clicking your ad, there are two things which will happen:
(1) The viewer’s first impression of your business/product will be that you deceived them, i.e. you can’t be trusted.
(2) The viewer’s pointless visit to your site will have cost you in click-through rates, bandwidth and/or other resources.
Unless you’re running a grossly unethical business the only useful visitors to your site are those which are genuine. The others are just slowing you down.
It may help to limit your message to a particular area of your business. Instead of advertising your business name, advertise a direct link to a particular product or special offer.
Involve the Audience:
Interactive banners have been shown to work well. Again, be careful not to overdo it.
Change Your Banners:
If they are going to be seen by the same people many times, keep them fresh.