Display ads: a creative Best Practices guide

Display Ads Creative Best Practices [hero_image]

Google Display Ads appear on over three million websites, over 650,000 apps, and across Google properties such as Gmail and YouTube. This guide will help you create assets for display ads — with a focus on responsive display ads.

Image ad example for Google Display Network adDisplay ads help you promote your business when people are browsing online, watching YouTube videos, checking Gmail, or using mobile devices and apps.

Responsive display ads are a form of asset-based ads. An asset is simply a part of an ad, such as a headline, description, image, or logo. When creating asset-based ads, you provide: headlines, descriptions, images, and logos. Google uses machine learning algorithms to combine these assets in countless permutations across the web, continuously optimizing for performance.

Because assets are combined without human assistance, special care is required up front. This guide can help you ensure your assets work together in a potentially very large number of configurations.

Use the following guidelines to create responsive display ads that reach users and drive performance for your business. Improved image quality, in turn, can improve your reach and performance by ensuring your ads are eligible to serve in all available inventory. While these guidelines are considered best practice, and therefore not mandatory, all ads and assets must comply with Google’s Google Ads Policy.

Marketing Images

Images are the most crucial element of responsive display ads. The guidance below will help you tactically understand what makes a good vs. bad image for responsive display ads and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls that can hurt performance. You can upload your own images or choose from Google’s library.

Responsive display ads let you upload up to 15 images in two aspect ratios: 1.91:1 for landscape and 1:1 for square. The minimum is two images with at least one image in the 1.91:1 (landscape) aspect ratio.


Images uploaded may appear in different sizes depending on layout. Images will resize in order to fit particular ad sizes.

Use high quality images

Images help users understand your business, products. and brand. They are critical to ads that perform well.

For best results, avoid images that are blurry, skewed, upside-down, unclear, include a border, color-inverted, or excessively filtered.

Do use the natural lines of an image. Don't use visually skewed images.
Do use images that are in focus. Don't use blurry images.
Do use images that are easy to see and in full color. Don't use images that are hard to see or appear washed out.
Do use images that include a single, non-duplicated composition of the subject. Don't use images that include a mirror image.
Do keep edges square and borders transparent to allow images to bleed to the full aspect. Don't round edges or use borders.
Do use the raw, natural composition of photos . Don't use inverted colors or excessive filters.

Don’t overlay a logo on top of an image, as this can be repetitive in certain ad layouts. Images where the logo is integrated in the photograph are OK.

No overlaid logos

Don’t overlay a logo on top of an image, as this can be repetitive in certain ad layouts. Images where the logo is integrated in the photograph are OK.

Do preserve the original image, ensuring it's the focus. Don't overlay logos or other graphics on images.

Avoid overlaid text

Avoid inserting text on top of an image. Keep in mind that, when assets are combined, your messaging may become repetitive if overlaid text is too similar to a headline, for example. Overlaid text can be unreadable in smaller ad sizes. Images where the text is naturally embedded or integrated are OK. For example, a photo of a text sign would be naturally embedded text.

Do preserve the original image, ensuring it's the focus. Don't overlay logos or other graphics on images.

Do not overlay buttons

Buttons (which promise non-existent functionality like “play”, “download” or “close”) violate Google’s Google Ads policy.

Do use the original image without button graphics that mislead functionality. Don't add buttons to your image as they aren't a clickable element.

Make your product or service the focus of the image

Blank space should not take up more than 80% of the image. Your product or service should be the focus.


Avoid collage images

Use single images. Collages are not recommended.


Avoid digital composite backgrounds

Avoid displaying products over digital composite backgrounds, including an all-white background. Instead use quality photographs that have physical settings with organic shadows and lighting.




Add text & ad groups

Use clear and compelling headlines and text

For your headline, use clear and simple text to describe your product, service, or brand. Make your description text easy to read and understand (80-character limit). Avoid generic messaging or click-bait.
Use sentence case, and avoid using “all caps.”

Good  examples Bad examples

Headline: “Our new wool socks are warm and cozy”

Text: “All of our orders are custom-made and delivered to your door!”

Headline: “Our New Wool Socks”

Text:  “Click here to learn more.”

Headline: “Sinbad's Big Adventure in theaters Nov. 22”

Text: “Don’t miss the most adventurous film of the summer.”



 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 information that can help them 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 people 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. In your final URL, provide the complete URL.

Create 3 to 4 ads per ad group

Create 3 to 4 ads per ad group, trying out different messages with different images. See which ad performs the best with your customers. Google Ads 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.

Auto-generated videos

Certain special considerations apply to assets used for videos:

  • Don’t use logos on the borders of images
  • Don’t use text on borders of images
  • Don’t use multiple images that look the same — only pick one

Related links


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