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Create Effective Display Ads: Google Best Practices

Official Guide to Responsive Ads and Image Ads.

The three critical elements of a display ad are the image, message, and design. This checklist outlines how to create effective responsive ads and image ads so that you can improve conversions, brand recall, and engagement. 

1. Determine whether you’re optimizing for more efficiency or control

  • If you want to drive more efficiency with your display ads, use responsive ads.

Why: Responsive ads give you access to more inventory and reach by adapting to fit 2M+ apps and websites on the Google Display Network.On average, advertisers see 50% more conversions at a similar cost-per-acquisition when they use both responsive ads and image ads, compared to image ads alone.2

Do it now: Create a responsive ad for Display

  • If you want full creative control over your display ads, use standard image ads.

Why: You can customize the colors, fonts, and layouts used in your ads.

2. Craft a message that is relevant and compelling

  • Tailor your display ads to the different stages of the purchase funnel.

Why: Delivering the right message at the right moment can encourage response and help guide customers to purchase.

  • Include unique selling points, prices and promotions.

Why: Make it easy for people to differentiate your service or products from competitors. People are also more likely to engage with ads that help them self-select before they click.

3. Make the most of your responsive ads

  • Make full use of the long headlines feature.

Why: 90 character headlines provide higher visibility and often perform better when rendered natively on a publisher’s site.

  • Make your description text different from your longer headline.

Why: Descriptions and headlines aren’t guaranteed to show in their entirety, but you still want to avoid duplicating messaging on those placements that allow for more text.

  • Upload images with a strong visual focus and minimal text overlay.

Why: Relevant images that support the main point of your ads tend to perform the best. 

  • Include your logo.

Why: Adding a logo will increase the number of placements you’ll be eligible for.

4. Create striking, high-performing image ads

  • Upload your standard image ads in high-definition (HD) sizes.2

Why: Ads with clear and crisp images are more likely to stand out. 

  • Include the five most popular image sizes.

Why: The top five sizes (300 x 250, 728 x 90, 160 x 600, 320 x 50, 300 x 600) can be automatically resized to fit 95% of the available placements on the Google Display Network.

  • Use HTML5 to create interactive or animated image ads.

Why: Interactive or animated elements can help focus attention on your copy and call-to-action.

  • Ensure the message on your landing page matches the message in your ad.

Why: This can have a positive impact on your users, conversion rate and quality score.

5. Test and optimize your display ads

  • Create multiple ad variations in your high volume ad groups using different messages and images.

Why: Multiple versions let you test and optimize for best-performing elements.

  • Don’t forget lessons learned from earlier ad optimizations.

Why: You’ve been optimizing your creative for a long time. Previous insights can also apply just as well to new responsive ads or image ads.

  • Consider setting your ad rotations to optimize automatically.

Why: Improving ads is a trial-and-error process. With many ad tests running, it may be difficult to keep track of all of those moments when statistical significance is reached. 

  • Rotate in fresh display ads every few weeks.

Why: Even great banners can become less effective over time. Ad rotation prevents people from developing ad fatigue.


For more best practices on the Google Display Network, check out our guide Making the Most of Display Advertising.


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Note: You’ll only need to provide a short and long headline, description, image and URL to get started with responsive ads.
Source: Google internal data, January 2017
Note: An HD version of a 300 x 250 ad would be 600 x 500, which means the image would have twice as many pixels.

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