Merchants often ask us about key steps to get started once they’ve launched on the Network. A great place to focus your energy early on is building a Creative Inventory. This will give new Affiliates marketing collateral to use in their promotions immediately after you accept them into your program.
In addition to your Creative Inventory, you may be interested in submitting a banner ad for a Featured Program Placement: an in-network advertising opportunity offered by Client Services. Reserving a spot within the Affiliate interface is a great way to gain exposure and encourage new partners to apply to your program.
However, in both of these cases, it’s important that you do not undercut your promotional efforts with lackluster banner ads. Here are some pointers to make sure you’re packing the most punch per pixel.
1. Content Hierarchy & Message
Be clear in what you are trying to convey. Are you promoting a new product line? Are you running a blowout sale? Or is the main point of this campaign simply a branding play? Once you know the question, it’s easier to find your answer. Your main message should visually support this answer through text size, properly correlating diction, and arrangement (also called composition).
You typically have under 3 seconds to make an impression on the average viewer. What information will they be drawn to the most? Is that the message you intend to be sending? Give a friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger on the street the 3-second test. Flash your proposed ad in front of them for a couple seconds and then ask what they can recall about it. You may be surprised what they respond to!
2. Logo + Image Files
It is absolutely necessary to include your logo in a banner ad design. You should select the version of your logo that fits best within the context and composition of the entire ad. For example, we have versions of our logo in black and white, versions with certain elements outlined, and versions with or without our tag line. Some companies may have a version of their logo that they use for horizontal layouts as opposed to vertical layouts.
Less is more when it comes to including imagery in your ads. Just like your content, your image should be singular. Choose either one powerful lifestyle image or carefully selected high-resolution silhouetted products. A great example is Warby Parker: here we have a single product and focal point but the ad still delivers a solid message and looks well designed.
3. Call to Action
Every successful ad includes some kind of encouragement to click. Whether you’re trying to get someone to sign up for an email newsletter or buy a cocktail dress, the call to action button should include a short, concise directive. (From there, hopefully you lead them directly to where they can fulfill that particular action!) The supporting messaging should try and direct the eye to this button in a gradual way but the call to action should jump out enough on its own in comparison to any other text on the ad. Experiment with different button colors and make sure to include high contrast colors- most likely, one should be neutral. If your button is pink, do not use red or blue text on top. A better text choice would be white or off-white.
5. Color palette
There are two things to keep in mind when picking colors for your fonts and CTA buttons: your branding and the main image you have selected. Ideally, you should have a stockpile of original photographs, stock photos or product images that are on-brand and approved for marketing use. Even with a fairly “busy” lifestyle image as the background, you can still achieve consistency and cohesion. Here is an example of a featured placement we created for a Merchant:
A different example featuring a minimalist style:
It goes without saying, that all of the elements featured in your ad should come together to support the overall brand and brand identity. An excellent example of proper execution is ShareASale Merchant, Malin + Goetz. Their banners are undoubtedly an extension of their brand – visually, they are part of the same family as their products themselves, website and packaging. They even imitate an in-store browsing experience due to the clean white background, stark sans-serif logo and bold blue text.
While there is no exact formula to create the perfect banner ad, there is a certain amount of design sensitivity and understanding required to produce something that will make a meaningful impact on viewers. Take the time to scrutinize your own banner designs or hire a professional to interpret your vision and goals!