What Makes an Online Display Ad Good or Bad?

Internet users are increasingly frustrated with flashing, shaking pop-ups and advertisers are showing equal concern over these forms of display tarnishing the image of display advertising.

Advertisers want to get the most out of their online advertising budget, therefore this article will communicate the methods through which a good display ad can be achieved and a bad display ad can be avoided.

The most commonly used ad formats being banners, skyscrapers and pop-ins are viewed positively. When working with the small spaces reserved for display ads, design elements are crucial as they can add or detract from an advertisement.

In these limited spaces, advertisers need to be able to communicate the benefits of a product to the target audience, a call to action or service information. Bold colours and differentiating between an image in the foreground and the background can help to clearly inform the viewer if executed wisely.

Another example of a good display ad is one with a prominent or repeated logo to reinforce brand messaging. Additionally, display ads need to hold a viewer's attention and therefore distracting elements such as flashing, shaking and fast animations that communicate confusion rather than increasing interest need to be avoided.


A web audience can be quick to turn away from ad formats that they find intrusive or disruptive, like those mentioned prior, and can view the entire content of a page negatively if these elements are presented.

Advertisements that do not take full advantage of the space they have bought and instead have cut off, skewed or slanted images are generally received negatively. Some advertisers argue that having a model facing the viewer increases attention.

The appropriate placement of a display ad on a website however, can increase consumer's ability to read or view an advertisement. Interactivity can also add to an advertisement and increase consumer's attention if used well e.g. rich media content.

It is widely known that homepages generally receive the most traffic, however utilising the techniques of contextual advertising by placing an ad on another website where the subject matter is relevant, can provide a more targeted audience.

This also includes relevance of the landing page, i.e. the page that is uploaded when a user clicks on an advertisement. The advertisement needs to take the user to the most appropriate page of the website that will help the user to receive what the advertisement guarantees, e.g. the page with the specific product rather than the homepage.


To get a positive return on investment it is imperative that prices are negotiated upon to make the ad spend go further. Different publishers use different pricing strategies however these can be negotiated.

Furthermore, if appropriate measures are not taken in tracking the performance of an advertisement, the value will be unknown and important adjustments of the advertisement may be missed.

Therefore, appropriate performance tracking measures, such as those on Google Analytics, need to be in place so as to measure the effectiveness of a campaign.

When appropriate design and execution are employed, as well as correct placement of an ad, this generally will spark increased consumer interest. These coupled with pricing and performance factors in the development of display advertising will result in more relevant and appealing advertising.

It is hoped that more of this appealing online advertising will enter the industry so as to create well targeted, relevant ads that achieve objectives.