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Creating image ads can be a daunting task!

If you’re using the Google AdWords ad builder templates, your options are a bit more limited, so make sure you’re following these steps as closely as you can to try and get the best out of them.

If you have an in-house designer or are paying someone to make ads for you, then you don’t want them to have to make several iterations, so take note of the points below before getting started.

1. What Is The Purpose Of Having Image Ads?

Often, brands will just make image ads without thinking about the strategy behind them. What are your plans for them, and do you need to create different sets for different strategies?

Prepare a brief outline of the criteria you’d like for your ads to ensure you get the right message across. Decide if you’re looking for direct response or if the aim is to raise brand awareness, then come up with a plan based on that decision.

It can be costly to create many different sets of ads if you’re using a designer, but it’s important to note that even just a slight variation in text can make all the difference in the world, depending on the audience you’re targeting. Try to get a couple of sets of ads made up to ensure you’re carrying on ad testing here, even if it is just a slight tweak.

You’ll need to consider that remarketing might require a different strategy. As well as thinking about running dynamic remarketing ads to show specific products, you may well want to design some ads to show special messages and offers or to upsell to people.

Once you’ve decided whom you want to target and with which message, then these ads will most likely need to be different to your normal display ads for new users. Again, try to test a couple of different looks or messages.

2. Make The Ads Look On Brand

The ads you create should match the look and feel of your website. Think about matching colours, and use a colour picker if you’re using the ad builder tool in AdWords so you can use the same Hex code when choosing colours there, too.

Being on brand is even more important if you’re using the ads for remarketing purposes, as it needs to feel like a continuation of a visit to your site and thus be instantly recognisable as your brand.

3. Call-To-Action Vs. No Call-To-Action

My testing in the past has shown that there isn’t a significant difference in click-through rate (CTR) between ads with a call-to-action versus ads without a call-to-action. This leads me to believe that when people see ads nowadays, they just expect to be able to click on them.

Nonetheless, testing here is very important. Don’t stick to just testing no call-to-action versus call-to-action — you should also test different calls-to-action. “Buy now” could work better for your industry than “Shop now;” or, “Learn more” could be a better pull if it’s a complicated product you’re trying to sell.

No call-to-action could be important to test if you’re paying on a cost-per-click basis rather than a CPM basis. It could be that receiving fewer clicks would still yield the brand impact that you need. Bottom line is it all depends on your goals.

4. Moving Vs. Static

Static image ads can often have a higher CTR than moving image ads, so I would recommend always including a static shot image ad in your testing, too. Sometimes, people just don’t have time to watch a 30 second ad rotation.

If you are going to design ads with rotating slides, make sure that the final slide of the ad contains information that will lead the user to click through to your site and that it makes enough sense on its own.

Again, if using rotating slides, test a call-to-action on each slide so people don’t necessarily have to wait till the end of the ad to click through.

5. Company Logo

Make sure this is included in every frame. If your logo doesn’t actually state what your brand does, then make sure this is explained in your ads. There’s no point using great imagery and then not actually telling the client what you sell.

6. Test All Advertising Sizes & Formats

Always look at the Google image ads guidelines before starting to create your ads to ensure you’re up to date with any new sizes they’ve released.

You’ll be wanting to make ads in each possible size to ensure you get enough coverage. It’s always good to send these guidelines over to your designer, if working with one, so the designer knows about restrictions Google places on things like flashing/strobing, length, etc.

You don’t want to pay lots of money to have ads made only to find out they’re disapproved when you try to launch.

Final Thoughts

These are a few things to remember when setting out to create image ads for the Google Display Network. There are, of course, others to consider, and each company will have to go through a different process depending on resources to hand and budgets/time available.

The main thing to remember is that you need to consider the purpose of the image ads before creating them, and that these ads, like text ads, needs to be tested and refreshed throughout the year.

Originally shared on the Search Engine Land by Rebekah Schelfhout.

Oleksiy Kuryliak

Founder of Rioks. Marketing Strategist & Auditor. Advising startups and enterprises on digital transformation, marketing operations and go-to-market strategies.