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How to Level Up Your Ad Design Strategy

Ads in Times Square

One of the most important aspects of ad campaigns is also one most often overlooked: ad creative and copy. Many marketing and advertising teams are stretched too thin to devote any meaningful time to the logic and strategy behind their advertisements. The result? Sub-par, uninspired ads are pumped out, which lead to sub-par, unimpressive results. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you follow our guidelines, you can efficiently design a killer ad that achieves your conversion goals — no matter how stretched for time you and your team are. 

1. Envision your end goal

The seemingly simple step of envisioning your end goal is actually a mini-brainstorming session in disguise. Of course, your most fundamental end goal will be determined by the type of ad campaign you plan on running. In other words: the broad strokes of your ad design will be dependent on whether you’re running a brand campaign or a performance campaign. 

If you’re running a brand campaign, your primary goal will likely be impressions. And if you’re running a performance campaign, you’ll want to drive clicks. These differing goals will impact the language of your ad copy (consider the differences between billboard ads on the highway and “click here” ads on your smartphone). But to completely boil down your goal to “clicks,” “installs” or “impressions” ignores the most powerful part of an advertisement — its capacity to evoke an emotional response.

So, when we talk about envisioning your end goal, we want you to look at the big picture. Take this opportunity to think about your product, your target audience and how you hope consumers will envision your brand. Look beyond your hard targets of sign-ups or sales. What sets your product apart from the competition? When people see your ad, what do you hope they’ll feel, think and do? Creativity and authenticity will ultimately help your ad stand out and succeed.

2. Get artistic, but keep it simple

When it comes to designing your ad creative and ad copy, it’s important to walk the line between being artistic and offering a clear and compelling message. You want the visuals and text of your ad to stand out enough to draw people in, but not be so wild or abstract that your message is lost. At the other end of the spectrum, if an ad is too utilitarian, it might not grab anyone’s attention.

Good Ad Examples
Examples of compelling and clear ad design from Volkswagen and Lego

No matter what type of design and ad copy you put together, remember to keep it simple. In other words, ensure that people can easily understand what your product is and what you’re trying to communicate. Your ad copy should read like a casual chat. And your creative should be engaging, yet straightforward.

3. Choose quality over quantity

With teams stretched thin and employees taking on multiple roles, the inclination to cut corners on ad design is all too familiar. Whatever you do, don’t let this happen!

Ads with low-resolution images or lackluster design simply don’t perform as well. Likewise, ad copy with misspellings or poor grammar will definitely turn people off. What’s more, a lot of publishers have strict requirements for ad quality. If you try to speed things up with a rushed design job, you may have to go through multiple review rounds for your ad, ultimately chewing up even more time.

4. Be action-oriented

Having a clear call to action (CTA) is especially relevant for performance ads, but brand ads can benefit from this as well. A CTA in your ad copy lets consumers know exactly what benefits your product will bring them, and what they should do next to achieve those benefits. Remember: simplicity is power.

And there you have it: our best practice recommendations for putting together a fantastic ad – be it a native ad, display or even just text. We hope that these guidelines help your campaigns perform better than ever before.