Inbound Marketing + Sales Blog

May 8, 2012

Designing for a Multisite Banner Ad Campaign

2 min read

Written by: Zane Gundersen  |  Share:

Define placement

So you’ve decided that a banner ad campaign is a good form of advertising to connect with your audience. Assuming you’ve defined your audience and demographic, it’s time to figure out where to reach them. What sites do these people visit, and how often? This may take a lot of research, but figuring this out can dramatically help you to convert visitors into leads. However this is post isn’t about planning your media buy, but rather about how to best design for one after its been established.

Define mediums and sizes

Because most banner campaigns run on multiple sites we need to be aware of the limitations this puts on our creative. Some sites (and or budgets) will allow us to run large banners using fully animated Flash SWFs. On the other end of the spectrum we might run into a site where we can only deploy a small static graphic.

This is where it gets tricky as an interactive designer. We don’t want to forsake the ability to use fully animated banners (which if designed well CAN yield higher click rates) but we also need to make sure that our concept/message still holds up well in a static image.

There is also almost always a file size restriction with banner placement. This generally depends on the dimensions of the banner, but oftentimes can be a challenge for the designer to develop creative that can exist in a very small file size. Sometimes image quality will be compromised in order to get the file size to be within publication specifications.


Now that we’ve established our lowest and highest denominator, we can start to work on our campaign creative. Like with any design, banner ads need to start with a concept; how to marry words and imagery to convey an idea. The goal of a banner ad, of course, is to have the user click on it and be brought to further information on the subject. In general, banner ads need to be eye catching and need to convey the product or service as both trustworthy and worthwhile. This can be done informationally, reward-driven, using humor, and even with simply great design/animation.

In most cases a concept can be centered on a single word, phrase or image conveying a call to action. Though it depends on your particular roll-out plan, I always think of banner ad concepts in the following 3 ways:

  • How could this concept work as a fully animated Flash SWF
  • How could this concept work as a 3 or 4 frame animated GIF
  • How could this concept work as a static image

Next I’ll draft some simple storyboards. Flash being the most detailed and allowing for the most complexity. Animated GIFs breaking it down to about 4 panels. And finally your static version being illustrated in a single panel of a storyboard.

Layout-wise, a great place to start when designing a banner ad campaign is at the biggest, most showcasing size (keeping in mind that this concept must also work for smaller sizes and different shapes). One advantage when starting with the largest size is that you can recycle all of your assets when creating smaller ads, without worrying about losing resolution of any of the graphical elements.

Once you’ve completed your showboat of a large banner ad, it’s time to design for the lowest common denominator: the smallest size or the size with the most different proportions. For example, if you’ve completed your skyscraper, next try creating your leader-board size. From there, though it still may take some time to think it out, it should be relatively easy to create any and all sizes in between. Some elements may need to be scrapped or modified in this process, though the most important information should remain in tact.

We hope you’ve found this post to be helpful. For additional tips on web banner design check out this great post on If you have any other tips on planning your design for a multisite banner campaign, please share with us.

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Topics: Demand Generation, SEO & Paid Search

About The Author

Zane is Lead Designer and Developer at New Breed and is the brains behind many of our impressive web projects.

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