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They Don’t Make Ads Like They Used To

many devices with ads showing

My first job as a professional graphic designer after graduating from college was at a small-town newspaper. I spent my days learning the technical aspects of print production, skills that I had not honed while in art school. My first taste of design in the real world included weekly grocery store ads and small classified ads for local shops. In the world of newspapers, advertising is sold by the inch and the goal for an advertiser was to fill those inches with as much information as possible. Advertisers wanted to get their money’s worth. This worked well – it worked because the audience’s lives at that time were different. Readers were sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea, and reading the daily news away from technology, away from social media, pop-ups and flashing buttons. They had the chance to focus on all those words, undistracted. The paper could also be set aside and picked up again later, unchanged. That’s the beauty of print media. Digital advertising, on the other hand, in today’s tech filled world, is a whole new ballgame. It won’t surprise you when I say, “They don’t make ads like they used to,” and they shouldn’t.

The 5-Second Rule

No, I’m not referring to how long you have to pick up that french fry you dropped. Five seconds, give or take a second, is the amount of time you have for your digital advertising to be memorable. How fast do you read? According to a study shared by Forbes, the average person reads 300 WPM. Let’s do the math. That’s five words per second. So, including a paragraph about the history of your company along with your current marketing message, your branding, a couple photos and a CTA button may be a lot to consume in five seconds. The key is to not distract from the core message that you are trying to communicate. Keeping copy to six words or less is ideal. If you want to introduce a new product, don’t fill the add up with company slogans or contact info (link a CTA instead). These items distract from your message and may be the only thing the audience sees before some other ad grabs their attention.

Who Are You?

No really, who are you? If you aren’t McDonald’s, you may not have the luxury of creating an advertisement without being completely clear about who you are. Proper branding that has a consistent voice is necessary. Brand recognition is essential for digital ads that perform. Keep your logo visible and complementary to the overall design. Maintain consistent colors, fonts, brand voice and tone. Brand recognition is built over time and it’s about consistency and visibility. Don’t leave your audience wondering who is responsible for the ad.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, So They Say

Let’s take advantage of this. But keep in mind, it needs to be the right picture. By the right picture I mean that it needs to be high-quality, it needs to reflect the message you want to communicate, and it needs to represent the quality of your brand. If it is lacking in any way, don’t use it! Humans are such visual creatures and that photo may be the only thing that is memorable to the audience. According to marketing industry influencer Krista Neher, the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words. Don’t miss out on utilizing the power of a quality picture when creating digital advertising. The right picture can be worth a thousand words about your product.

Keep these best practices in mind while working with the design team on your digital marketing strategy. They will appreciate you for it. In a world filled with distractions and ever-changing technologies, the less is more strategy in digital ad design will not only go a long way to deliver a memorable message to your audience, it is also where great design can thrive.


Creative Best Practices For Digital Advertising – Vehicle Care Industry Edition

Interested in understanding how your brand gets the attention that it (surely) deserves when competing not only with other digital ads, but content as well? Well, you are in luck! We’ve put together this guide to outline the basics of digital advertising, primarily focused on creative suggestions to help you drive success.

Nichole Anderson is the Director of Corporate Design at Babcox Media

Contact Nichole at [email protected]

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