Three Keys to Digital Ads That Sell

Digital marketing gets a lot of attention — and it should. It lets you target your audience online when their searches line up with what you’re selling. That’s pretty great.

But there’s something missing — the same thing that’s often lacking in traditional media. Almost no one is thinking about creativity in digital advertising. And that’s dampening ROI.

Digital ads are no different than TV or print ads in one important way: you’re interrupting somebody and asking them to pay attention to your message.

That means, even in the digital space, you have to get their attention and keep it long enough for them to act. Because there’s nothing easier to ignore than a digital ad.

Here are three tests every digital banner ad should be able to pass.


Think of your digital ad as a billboard. You only get a couple seconds before someone scrolls past — if that long — so your message has to be super short. Shoot for the least possible number of words. Six or less is ideal.


Those six words have to do all the heavy lifting, so make them count. Make them funny. Make them shocking. Make them surprising. They have to stop someone from scrolling.


Your ad may show up on an incredibly busy website. So it has to be as clean and uncluttered as possible. Choose a typeface that’s easy to read, and avoid using all caps. If you include some image or illustration, keep it simple, and make sure it amplifies the words. Make it easy to read.

Beyond those three, always include a call to action (“Click now!”). Always make sure the landing page pays off the promise of the ad, and that it includes a next step.

Consider A/B testing, which is easier and less expensive in the digital realm. You can use an animated or dynamic ad if there’s a good reason to, but static ads tend to perform better in most cases. Again, try an A/B test between static and animated to see which works best for you.

Short, sharp and simple. Those are the keys to more productive digital ads.