Tips for creating effective display ads

If you're new to creating image-based display ads, or you'd like to improve your display ad performance, we've got some tips to help you get the job done:

  • Use text, images, and color schemes effectively
  • Experiment with different display ad types and content designs
  • Take advantage of templates within the Ad gallery
  • Create your own custom images
  • Generate display ads based on your existing text ads

Creating the ideal display ad

Display ads offer many options, so take the time to experiment with different templates, colors, and content to get the best results. You want your ad to be a standout!

What makes a great display ad? Here are our top tips for creating effective display ads. Let's dive into each of these tips, and look at some examples.

Be explicit about your call-to-action, in a button or somewhere else

This is especially important in image-based ads, because customers may not know what part of the ad is clickable. In some cases, if your ad really blends in well with a site, they may not even realize that your ad is an ad! Don't make them guess.

People also want to know what they can do if they click your ad: "Learn more" or "Buy now." Help them figure out what's in it for them if they click on your ad by letting them know up front.

Ad ideas example
Balanced ad content

Make sure your ad text and images are balanced within the body of the display ad and within the overall ad size. Check your ad in each available ad size and resize any images as needed. We recommend you follow these guidelines for the best results:

  • Images should be clear, resized to fit the ad shape, and easy to recognize. Images shouldn't be cut off or unrecognizable.
  • All text should be easy to read and understand. Lines of text should be complete and make sense. There's nothing more awkward than a line of text that's been cut off!
Try different ad ideas

Not sure how to make an ad? Get your creative juices flowing with our suggested display ad templates. Make ads from your existing ads and the images found on your website, or customize these ad ideas to suit your needs. You can also take a look at our rich media ads gallery. Filter by ad format, feature, type, size, vertical, or country.

Include prices, promotions, and exclusives

If you have something special to offer, make sure your customers see it. People are usually searching to make a decision about something. Give them what they need to help make their decision.

Using terms like special offers, coupons, discounts, promo codes, and bargains is a great way to let people know you’ve got some deals.

Provide a relevant landing page

Take a look at the page on your website that you're linking to, which is called the landing page. Make sure to include a clear call-to-action in your ad that takes viewers straight to that landing page. For example, if your ad text says “Call us,” be sure to include your business phone number on the landing page. If your ad text says “Limited time offer,” be sure to point people to that promotion on the landing page.

Test different ad sizes

Create three to four ads per ad group, trying out different messages with different images. See which ad performs the best with your customers. AdWords can automatically show the better-performing ads within an ad group more often. This removes the guesswork and lets you build on what you've learned from your experiments.

Go mobile!

Show your image ads on all sorts of mobile devices, including smartphones, feature phones, and tablets.

Building your ad with the Ad gallery

For the quickest, simplest solution to creating display ads, we suggest you use our Ad gallery. This tool offers pre-made display ad templates with a free image library. You'll save time and effort so you can focus on the other details of your ad instead of making your own images.

You should still review and resize your images as needed before saving the final version of a display ad so that your ad appears properly. Here are some tips for editing images within the Ad gallery:

  • Display ad previews: You can preview how your display ad will appear while you're creating it. The preview appears next to the template as you build the ad.
  • Confirm your ad appears properly in all selected ad sizes: When you create your ad, you'll have the option to select the ad sizes we provide for your ad. In some cases, these ad sizes may not work well with the size of the image you provided, so be sure to check that your image displays properly in the ad size you want by using the preview. Don't use a size if the images or content don't display properly.

Building custom images

You may still need to create custom images that you can later upload into an image ad, or upload into a template into the Ad gallery. Custom images are useful if you have special graphics related to your business. Or you may want to create images with services that aren't already available within the Ad gallery. We suggest that you follow these guidelines when creating custom images:

  • Use transparent 24-bit PNG format images whenever possible. These look more professional because they match the background of both the image and the ad itself. If you don't have a transparent PNG image, make sure your ad color scheme matches the background of your images. If your image has a white background, for example, consider setting your ad background to white.
  • Re-use graphics from your other advertising campaigns, as long as they meet Google advertising policies.
  • Design images with an online image creation tool, which you can often find for free. Just use Google search to find the tools!
  • Design your images with image editing software applications, which are also often free. Most computer systems come with a free image editing program.
  • Partner with a graphic designer or other creative agency to build your images for you.

Generate custom display ads based on your text ads

Need help with coming up with content for your display ad? You can generate custom display ads based on your text ads in these ways:

  • Use the Ad gallery to see ad suggestions based on your existing text ads.

    Try it now

  • Go to your ads table on the "Ads" tab and select the checkbox next to any text ad. Then click More Actions above the table, and select Generate display ad.

    Try it now


As you create display ads, you might want to keep in mind these technical specs and requirements.

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